January 23, 2015
Last week the HSE marked its 40th anniversary with a series of warnings about the continuing importance of maintaining health and safety. While the number of people killed at work has fallen dramatically since the HSE was launched, it’s important employers don’t get complacent. A lack of education among the workforce about the adequate measures to take when considering health and safety can still make a huge difference. Good communication is vital, so provide in depth, yet cohesive and easy to follow Health and Safety guides, including useful information like fire blanket locations, fire exits, what to do in an emergency and emergency phone numbers which are handed out to all employees. Regular talks about the importance of health and safety should be conducted every few months to reiterate health and safety messages.
It can be hard to prepare for every situation but planning is essential for most emergencies; so appoint a qualified health and safety officer for the office to ensure that medical emergencies receive quick and effective help as soon as possible while professional help is on the way.
And if your work area is a high risk environment, warning signs in clear, bold writing are essential. Where necessary, safety equipment should be worn at all times and any liquid spills should be cleared up and highlighted immediately.
It may be a good idea to keep a list of key numbers and emergency services on the office board or in plain sight where it can be easily read out by a staff member in the case of an accident or an emergency. By using an easy to read and bold font, a laminated card or even a phone that is designed to connect to emergency services by way of speed dial can be essential when every second counts.
Make sure to keep tabs on the current and local threats and safety risks, particularly if you are working in a potentially dangerous environment. Always print off clear labels and warning signs if you are working in a high risk environment to reduce the chances of an accident as a result of neglect and in a construction environment make sure that hard hats are worn at all times.
In environments where there is a range of ages working in your employment, training sessions in CPR and training sessions in order to recognise a stroke can be an essential part of staff training as the health and safety officer may not always be on hand to help in the event of an accident or sudden attack.
Be as consistent with your work schedule as possible. With a regular work schedule, particularly in the construction and industrial industries, continuity is a crucial part of preventing work accidents and injuries as everyone is made aware of the work schedule. For example if heavy lifting is often a part of the job, it would not do to have a staff lunch break for another department organised in the same time slot as there could be clashes in the corridors which may lead to accidents.
If sudden changes do need to be made to the schedule make sure to provide staff with ample opportunities to learn about and to familiarise themselves with these changes. Alert all staff in email and in writing of these changes and try to allow for enough time for these changes to take place.
In the case of health and safety measures and procedures try to regularly remind staff after changes have taken place that old systems no longer in place, to prevent confusion and further injury from occurring in the event of an accident.
Above all else, communication is incredibly important. If an accident has occurred somewhere within the company and nobody is alerted to the cause or effect of this accident, nothing can be done to resolve the problem or prevent it from happening again. Make sure to keep an accident book and to write down all incidents in this book, including details of the accident, its cause and the date and time the accident took place in order to provide ample security for both the employee and the company.
Slips and spills should also be brought to the attention of a superior. If it is a large spill in a public area, a line manager or administrator will need to be notified so that appropriate measures can be taken. In the event of a slip or a fall it is best to alert the nearest superior and try to damage the scene of the accident as little as possible as there may be an underlying cause as to what prompted the slip or fall.
Don’t rely on others to point out mistakes or spills, be assertive when reporting a problem, particularly if it persists and no steps have been made to solve the problem. If you report a potential issue before it causes any accidents, better for you! Remember that communication is important in any work force and to point out issues and potential problems before they have a chance to seriously injure someone.
Mike James is a content editor for www.georgeide.co.uk, an independent full service law firm based in West Sussex. Established in 1966, George Ide solicitors operate from three offices in Chichester, London and Bognor Regis.