None of us go to work expecting to fall ill or get hurt, but that doesn’t prevent accidents from happening or from things going wrong. According to data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 700,000 British workers sustained a non-fatal injury in 2019-20 while there were 1.6 million work-related cases of ill health. Tragically, there were also 111 fatalities during that period.
All employers have a responsibility to protect the physical and mental wellbeing of their staff, even during the post-pandemic era when a larger proportion of the country’s workforce continues to do their jobs from home.
So, what are the potential consequences of health and safety issues, and what can be done to prevent them from occurring?
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Why is health and safety so important?
If proper due care and attention is not taken, employees are at risk. They could suffer a serious injury or illness and as the HSE data shows, even deaths are not unheard of. These instances are extremely distressing for the people involved, not to mention their loved ones.
The employer themselves is also at risk of sustaining major reputational damage as well as taking a financial hit – it’s thought that work-related illnesses and injuries cost the British economy around £16 billion every year.
How to ensure health and safety in the workplace
1. Risk assessments
Regular worksite analysis should be carried out in order to identify any potential hazards and address those before they become a larger problem. A comprehensive assessment should cover everything including the likes of room temperature, the state of electronic equipment, the layout of the space and any obvious threats like loose cables or spillages.
2. Personal protective equipment (PPE)
This may not apply to every industry but having the appropriate workwear is vital in certain sectors, most notably in construction. Clothing needs to be safe, practical and suited to the task at hand while many manual jobs will require PPE such as hard hats, gloves, steel-capped boots, goggles and ear defenders.
3. Regular training
Employees at all levels should take mandatory courses to make them aware of the risks involved in the workplace and how they can help to prevent them. Refresher courses should be taken on a regular basis so that any information regarding new protocols or legislation can be relayed to all staff.
4. A culture of accountability
That training should help to foster a positive environment, where employees are encouraged to flag up and deal with any potential issues as soon as they arise – whether it’s directly related to their department or not. Health and safety should be everyone’s responsibility, and assuming otherwise can lead to dangerous and damaging outcomes.
Also read: 6 Tips to Boost Workplace Well being