Promoting workplace safety: More than a checklist
The importance of the physical safety of employees in the workplace cannot be ignored by business owners. Unfortunately, according to Alex Wilkins, Head of Business Development at iHASCO, many businesses fail to implement the correct measures that will help them achieve necessary safety levels, which drive greater efficiency and productivity.
Regardless of the working environment, all businesses should prioritise employee safety and make sure that each worker has the knowledge and expertise to carry out their tasks without harm to their health or that of others. But why is physical health in the workplace so imperative? And how can businesses implement the correct processes to ensure compliance and promote safety?
Duty of care
With some staff spending more time in the workplace than at home, it is imperative for businesses to remember the importance of managing their employee’s physical health. It is not just a ‘nice touch’ to look after employees – it is the law. Since the introduction of various Health and Safety Acts, including the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974 and the Fire Safety Order 2005 businesses have been forced to accept their greater duty of care.
Specifically, these Acts require workplaces to provide the following: adequate training of staff to ensure the health and safety procedures are understood and adhered to, adequate welfare provisions for staff at work, a safe working environment that is properly maintained and where operations within it are conducted safely and with suitable provision of relevant information, instruction and supervision.
While many have disputed the ambiguity surrounding the fact that these duties are qualified with the words ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’, it has delivered a shift in societal attitudes by demonstrating a business’ responsibility to properly safeguard its workforce. On the other hand, some training can simply not be avoided, take fire awareness as an example, all staff, regardless of what environment they work in legally require fire awareness training. Similarly, those using display screen equipment legally require training, usually referred to as ‘DSE training’ or ‘VDU training’.
Carelessness has a cost
Without proper safety measures in place, businesses can expect to suffer from a range of factors including increased work-related injuries, falls in productivity and even costly lawsuits and compensation claims. With that in mind, it comes as a real surprise that so many are still not arming their staff with the knowledge to protect themselves.
Take the retail sector, which counts three million employees in the UK. If these workers don’t have the correct health and safety knowledge to, for instance, move stock correctly, a straightforward task can easily result in the employee injuring themselves, or others in the process. If we look to the construction industry, which reports a shocking 60,000 deaths on construction sites every year, ensuring that these workers know how to keep safe can even be a matter of life and death.
With these examples in mind, it is clear how health and safety negligence have a direct and negative impact on the performance of a business. Especially, when workplace injuries result in employees being forced to take time off and businesses to secure temporary replacements. In fact, statistics from the Health and Safety Executive UK show that 30.7 million working days are lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury. Likewise, failing to safeguard employees in the workplace can also result in significant reputational damages such as the business being lambasted by the media, leading to a negative public opinion and consequently reduced profits and revenue.
How to make a difference
How are businesses able to prepare their staff with the necessary knowledge to make a genuine difference and prevent workplace injuries?
A simple, cost and time-effective solution, is eLearning. Covering everything from manual handling to fire safety, carefully designed, interactive online training provides an engaging way for workers to complete their health and safety training. At the same time, it offers businesses the chance to work in a straightforward way towards compliance with legislation. It’s a win-win solution.
When training can take as little as 30 minutes, it should be considered mandatory for all businesses, especially as the benefits will be felt by both employees and the business’s bottom line alike. Not only does effective, engaging online training prevent employees from getting injured at work but it can also reduce the negative impact on the business itself. Businesses need to be aware that incorrect manual handling is the case of more than a third of all workplace injuries that are reported to authorities each year. Likewise, a shocking 60% of private businesses never recover from a fire. Therefore, it is essential that employers recognise the pressing need to ensure their workforce knows how to keep themselves and the workplace safe. This way, businesses are able to avoid the potentially catastrophic results of carelessness.
These few examples carry the same message – by equipping staff with all the knowledge and right tools to do their jobs effectively without the risk of bringing harm to themselves or their colleagues, businesses will be able to thrive with a more efficient workforce.