Workplace Safety: A Practical Guide for Your Business and Employees – Michael Morris

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All businesses, no matter how large or small, are governed by health and safety laws. As an employer (even if you’re self-employed) your company’s health and safety is your responsibility. And even as an employee you have certain duties to ensure the health and safety of a business is carried out properly. Everyone within the workplace is responsible for putting the right precautions in place to create a safe working environment by reducing the risks of dangers.

Managing your business’s health and safety should be relatively straightforward, making up part of your overall management strategy. You’ll need to put practical steps in place that help to protect you and your employees from danger whilst also helping you to look after the growth and future success of your business. Any good business practises good health and safety.

This resource will explain what the potential hazards are and what safety measures need putting in place. It’ll also provide you with helpful advice as to how you can apply these approaches to your business.

Common Workplace Injuries

The following statistics demonstrate the most common workplace accidents in 2015/16:

  • 144 employees were killed as a result of an accident at work. Of these fatalities:
      • 26% fell from a height
      • 19% were struck by a moving vehicle
      • 10% were struck by a moving object
        • This figure is 7% lower than the average for the last five years (155
      • Approximately 621,000 workers suffered a non-fatal injury in the workplace. Of these injuries:
          • 200,000 led to more than 3 days off wor
            • Which resulted in 152,000 having more than 7 days off work
          • 20% were injured whilst carrying, lifting or handling
          • 19% were injured due to tripping or slipping
          • 10% were hit by a moving object
        • 72,702 non-fatal injuries sustained by employees were reported by employers (this includes injuries that lasted over 7 days and specified injuries)
            • Employers are substantially un-reporting non-fatal injuries that occur to their employees

■     It’s currently estimated that around half of the injuries are being reported

  • The amount reported among self-employed people is even lower
    • 5 million days were lost in total due to workplace injuries that were self-reported
      • Per case, this is an average of 7.2 days
    • In 2014/15, the economic cost of workplace injuries and work-related ill health in Britain was:
      •       £14.1 billion

■     £9.3 billion was due to work-related illness

■      £4.8 billion was due to workplace injuries, equating to:

    • £1.6 million per fatal injury
    • £7,400 per non-fatal injury

Health & Safety Laws

In the UK, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSW Act) is the main law that governs workplace health and safety. To ensure the health and safety of all employees, it lists general duties that you need to do that are “reasonably practicable”. This essentially means that you need to balance the level of risk against the measures you need to control it, including time and money. However, taking action is not required if it is grossly disproportionate to the risk.

The HSW Act is supported by a number of other regulations that provide more specific legal duties for different industries and activities.

An Introduction to Workplace Safety

It needn’t be time-consuming or complicated to provide a safe and healthy working environment for your employees but it’s vital that you do take their well-being into account. This applies to a whole host of different workplaces, not just offices, factories and shops but hotels, hospitals, schools, cinemas and so on.

What’s Classed as a Workplace?

A workplace is defined as any premises (including a part of one) that is made accessible as a place of work to any person. It does not include domestic premises.

The term ‘workplace’ also includes paths and private roads on business parks and industrial estates and common parts of shared buildings.

Other things to consider are washing facilities, toilets, temperature, ventilation and lighting, for example. You must also consider the needs of disabled people who may have specific requirements, such as adapted washing facilities and toilets and wider gangways and doorways.

Creating a Safe Place to Work

In order to create a safe workplace, you must:

  • Ensure the building is in good repair
  • Maintain the building and all its equipment so that it works efficiently and is safe
  • Fix any dangerous defects straight away or put steps in place that protect those who are at risk
  • Put precautions in place that prevent materials or people from falling from open spaces, e.g. guard rails or fencing
  • Cover or fence floor openings when they’re not in use, e.g. a vehicle examination pit
  • Provide enough space for access and safe movement
  • Offer safety glass (if required)
  • Make sure stairs, corridors and floors etc. are free from obstruction, e.g. cables
  • Provide adequate drainage in any wet process
  • Ensure any windows that are capable of being opened can be adjusted, closed or opened safely
  • Make sure all skylights and windows are constructed and designed so they can be cleaned safely (anchor points may need fitting if the window cleaner will need to use a harness)
  • Minimise any risks caused by ice or snow on outdoor routes, using sand or salt, for example

You can click this link to learn more about this guide