Health and safety in the workplace is a very broad topic that covers a vast array of areas for you as a business owner to cover. However, if you are a new business owner, or are going to become a brand new employer of staff members then you must make sure that you are taking health and safety very seriously.
Whilst most issues you will ever encounter will only be minor, protecting yourself and your employees with the right regulations, rules, and all within the word of your local laws is essential to the longevity and safety of your business and staff.
Listed below are 6 key steps you can take to help prevent injuries in the workplace and protect the health of your employees. Remember that accidents will happen. But the more you take an active role in health and safety compliance, the easier it will be to deal with any issues that arise.
In order to best protect yourselves as a business and your employees, you must be performing as much research as possible into what you are and are not liable for, as well as the best ways to prevent injuries and to provide help to injured staff. This research will prove invaluable once you understand exactly what you have to provide for your workers in terms of health and safety and how best to provide it.
This is especially true if you have a business that does any kind of manufacturing or manual handling of heavy loads. Know the rules and regulations and you can start to prevent accidents before they happen.
An audit is an official observation that you perform that allows you to make a solid list of all issues that may occur in the workplace. These can be as detailed or as scarce as you wish but must cover specific points that will be outlined by local or national governments. General points to look for are areas of potential slips and trips, where heavy manual handling takes place, where dangerous equipment is kept, as well as any potential chemical hazards. As mentioned specific laws pertaining to what you need to look out for will be kept by local governments, so always ask them for help where you need it.
Once you have an audit in place and you have done the research, it is essential that you put in place a plan that all employees are aware of, that outlines just what issues have been discovered and what you are planning to do about them. This plan can also include a proposed health and safety policy that will come into force asap.
This is especially true if you are a new business. Get a health and safety policy in place before a member of staff injures themselves. While they may still put in a Workcover claim to protect themselves, a health and safety policy ensures that all regulations were followed by both parties involved.
Once you have the policy in place you must educate al your employees, both old and new, as to what is expected of them while on-premises and what they can expect of you as their employer. This education is vital to ensuring that all of your staff know their place in the prevention of accidents and injuries in the workplace and so they know that you are also providing them with a safe working environment.
If you make any updates to this plan you must let them know so that they can be aware of any new responsibilities or rules that are coming into place that may affect their jobs or their daily duties.
Alongside the education you must provide, you must be taking an active part in the prevention of injuries in the workplace. This may include providing PPE for staff, introducing clear signage to highlight key dangers or rules, or even providing barriers that stop employees from entering unsafe places without the correct gear or permission. Remember that it is easier to prevent issues from escalating than it is to deal with them when they finally happen. Your active role here is crucial.
Health and safety initiatives don’t end once you put a plan in place. If anything, they have only just begun. Remember that laws change regularly, with new ones being brought in to cover specific scenarios or issues. A great example of this is the current COVID-19 pandemic that has forced many employers to implement multiple new rules and regulations to prevent the spread of the virus. Always be updating your policies and keep an eye on the law.