According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, there were approximately 2.9 million workplace injuries and illness reported by employers in 2016.
While these figures are shocking, you also need to factor in the number of unreported cases, as some employers do try to cover up incidents at work. For these figures to fall, employers and employees need to exercise vigilance and adhere to health and safety policies. Sometimes, red tape is there for a reason, and regulations need to be met for the protection of everybody.
No matter what your position in the workplace, you need to follow these guidelines to minimise your risk of harm.
Read the health and safety policy at work. Every company needs to have one, and it needs to be available to every single employee. Employers need to include it in induction packs, and employees need to ensure they read it thoroughly, no matter how time-consuming.
There needs to be a risk assessment at regular intervals. Are you required to work from a height? Do you carry heavy loads? Are there chemicals that you need to come into contact with? It is the employer’s responsibility to list every hazard and to take steps to remedy potential issues. Employees need to adhere to the risk assessment once completed.
Deal with hazards immediately. When you see a potential hazard, report it immediately, and if possible and safe to do so, deal with the issue before harm takes place. Any spills, for example, should be mopped up quickly, with a sign to indicate a possibly slippery surface. It is everybody’s responsibility to report faults, as the failure to do so could prove catastrophic.
Attend training events. Yes, we realise training can be both time-consuming and costly, but when it comes to health and safety, you need to make this a priority. Whether the training is conducted by an external practitioner or an internal delegate, every member of staff needs to attend training. This should be updated annually, especially if conditions in the workplace change, or new laws come into play.
Display safety signs clearly. For staff and customers, there needs to be clear signage to warn of potential dangers or no-go areas. In the event of a fire or other natural disaster, there should also be a sign pointing to the nearest emergency exit. Ensure signs are well-placed, but not anywhere where another health and safety issue could arise by somebody falling over them!
There needs to be a first-aid kit available, with all the required pieces of equipment to deal with any potential injury. Employees need to know where to find it, so a sign conveniently placed should do the trick. Again, training matters, for everybody on the team. Emergency first-aid training should not be left to one appointed person, as they may not be at work the day a mishap happens. Therefore, each member of staff needs to be trained, having the skills to deal with injury and to conduct CPR on somebody who is unconscious.
To the employer: Unless you want to add your workforce to the statistics above, you need to follow legislation. By taking every reasonable measure to protect your staff, you will have a happier and healthier workforce.
Health and safety matters, so be wise and don’t become another statistic.