When it comes to workplace Health and Safety, there are a lot of parts that employers and businesses need to be aware of, take into account, and get right. That’s why it’s a good idea to have expert advice and support, whether that’s in the form of a dedicated Health and Safety professional, a team or help from outside the organisation.
Health and Safety issues can come from many sources. The wrong policies, for example, can lead to issues about their implementation, and this has an effect on how the business runs and staff turnover. They can also lead to issues that were not accounted for, and the knee-jerk reaction is to be more strict, which isn’t always the right step.
The team at Rhino Safety have looked at some of the tools and processes that make Health and Safety work and why they’re so important, before looking at issues that could easily be saved by the right implementation of these steps.
To make sure Health and Safety works for your business, you need to understand it. There are different parts to making sure you follow all the rules and regulations that cover this topic, and some of these are governed by law. This is to make sure the workplace is a safe place for employees and that risks are identified and managed as much as possible.
There are various tools and processes that play a part in this, and each has their use. They aren’t tasks that can be done once and ignored. Workplace Health and Safety is an evolving topic and you can avoid issues and complications by constantly being aware of these developments, and working with employees to create an environment that suits everyone.
The role of Health and Safety documentation cannot be overstated. This is the way that everything is analysed and recorded. These documents cover policies about anything that could result in harm to someone in the workplace, as well as processes and procedures that should be followed where injuries may occur.
A good example of this is an evacuation plan during a fire or emergency. Equipment usage can also be covered, and even uniforms if they are required for safety reasons. It’s needed for audits and any checks done by regulatory bodies to ensure standards are met and upheld, so everything must be up-to-date and accurate.
It’s also important to know that anyone who employs five employees or more must have written Health and Safety documentation by law. This is not something to fall foul of, as it can have big consequences.
Identifying risks and hazards is an important step to creating a safe workplace. These hazards are normally physical risks that can cause injury or harm to a person, and a risk assessment is a detailed analysis on what the issue is, the potential consequences should someone suffer from them and what can be done to reduce the likelihood of an accident happening.
They could relate to equipment use, obstructions, trip hazards, dealing with electrical fixtures and a range of other topics. The directions to minimise the risks having an impact in the workplace can cover a range of areas, but requires workers to be aware of them and do their part in upholding them. This is why taking their views, and what they need to complete their tasks, into account can help.
On the other side of this are accident investigations, which are carried out when an incident occurs. No one wants accidents in the workplace, as anyone being hurt or injured isn’t a good outcome. They do present opportunities for businesses to learn and adapt, however.
An investigation into the accident can be used to evaluate existing policies and risk assessments to see if there are any areas that can be improved. The whole situation could be added to the assessment, with new steps in place to prevent it from happening again.
We can only prepare for what we know and can imagine, but with new people and experiences, we can broaden the scope to cover a lot more scenarios.
Now that we know a few of the ways workplace Health and Safety can keep people safe at work, you might think that everything is easy and there should be no issues. The policies and documents are completed and employees follow the outlines, guidelines, and directions as needed to avoid accidents.
In theory, this is a good approach, but in some cases, Health and Safety issues come around because of inflexible views and processes that don’t reflect the business or the work that people have to do. By creating barriers and calling it Health and Safety, it demotivates the workforce. This brings wellbeing into the equation, and could be a reason for staff to leave.
Adhering to Health and Safety can solve a lot of these problems, if applied correctly.
In some cases, there are pieces of clothing that are justifiably covered by workplace Health and Safety. This is most obvious with personal protective equipment (PPE) needed when in certain environments or dealing with hazardous materials, but some jobs require overalls, steel toe-capped boots and other gear. Where that’s a safety benefit, this is justified.
In some organisations, this policy has been extended to cover what clothing is suitable for work, and this is where a line must be drawn. Your business may have a dress code to align with it’s brand or values, but this is not a Health and Safety issue.
Where there is a reason, such as closed shoes where heavy objects are moved around a lot, a risk assessment should detail the safety risks and reasons for such a rule, but simply banning certain shoes or clothing with no reason is not going to be backed up by any Health and Safety reason.
When we think of working at height, most people imagine being on a roof or on a high platform. However, height can be as small standing on a desk as any height that a person can fall from and injure themselves is a hazard.
This is why there are strict rules about ladders, cherry pickers and other equipment that take people from the ground. It might seem excessive to put rules in place to use a ladder – especially when people use them at home all the time – but there’s a difference. At work, the employer is responsible for the equipment and the consequences.
Risk assessments and procedures outline how they should be used and when, such as always having someone available to steady the equipment. It’s not a case of simply grabbing a ladder and changing a light, and this can be frustrating for people, but as long as instructions around use are simple and clear, it doesn’t have to be a huge issue.
How many times have you seen someone trip over something and thought that you’d never do that – only to do the same thing two minutes later? Yeah, us too.
It’s such an obvious risk that businesses take one of two approaches: they ignore it completely and rely on people to be responsible with only tokenistic documentation or they overregulate and even a crumb becomes a big deal.
Yes, it happens, and it’s so easy to solve. It does require at work, but consider everything that’s permanent, from furniture to cables to products, or likely to appear in a workplace and put a policy in place stipulating where they can be and what should be done about them when out of place. This might mean clearing walkways, using cable ties or ensuring furniture doesn’t stick out.
Measuring for millimetre discrepancies is going to frustrate and annoy your workers. There needs to be a balance in what you can reasonably predict to be on the floor and the steps taken to keep walkways safe.
Workplace Health and Safety isn’t about making work harder for employees, or putting rules in place that make the business less efficient. There is sometimes a disconnect between those making the policies and those following them, which is why communication is so important to getting this right.
If the wrong policies and processes are put in place, Health and Safety issues are more likely to arise. While these are guided by regulations and laws, it’s important to consider what impact this will have on workers. Going too far in the names of safety can sometimes have the opposite effect, and this is where the team at Rhino Safety can help.
Our experts work to understand your business, industry and what needs to be done to implement the right policies for everyone involved. We’ve worked with a range of businesses in different industries and sectors, so we know what to look for and how to make sure your business is compliant with the various laws and regulations as well as ensuring it is a safe place to work without workers feeling like they’re not trusted or being spoken down to.
If you’d like to know more about workplace Health and Safety, contact the Rhino Safety team today.