How to improve workplace safety according to the HSE 

How to improve workplace safety according to the HSE 

The UK's Health and Safety Executive body provided thorough guidance for ensuring their employees work in a safe and proper environment. It covers aspects like managing risks, discussing common industry injuries and vulnerable workers who need special attention. But even if occupational accidents have increased in the past years, businesses still struggle to balance the financial burden and worker safety since 1.8 million people were recorded as suffering from work-related illness.

Most employees battle stress, depression and anxiety, while others struggle with musculoskeletal disorders due to handling heavy equipment and products. However, the cost of these injuries is estimated to have reached £18.8 billion, so typically, organisations would want to minimise these costs by implementing a proper safety company culture.

Many ignore the importance of safety, but not your business, which can do better and prioritise employees' health for maximum productivity and profit. Here’s how it’s possible.

First step: Identify hazards and risks at the office or site

Of course, your business is safe if you look at it from a corporate perspective. But managers should get out there where workers are every day and analyse each step of their job, equipment used, and possible hazards to assess real risks. Employees might’ve used faulty gear without your knowledge or worked with no breaks with dangerous tools. In the long term, this behaviour leads to accidents that can be solved in court in the case of your negligence through an accident at work claim.

However, you can considerably minimise the occurrence of this situation if you do the following steps:

  • Analyse how workers use equipment, if there are any toxic materials involved in the process or if their tasks are dangerous;
  • Find out how the situations from the site can harm employees in the long term and what some supposed risks to be aware of;
  • Find a way to eliminate or at least control the hazardous elements in your business in a way that doesn’t interrupt operational tasks;
  • Encourage employees to record progress on the new ways of ensuring their safety, but also be there to review them for any needed adjustments;

What to expect in the case of common injuries

According to the HSE, there are specific categories in which common accidents occur. Knowing they can happen is a huge help for your risk assessment and safety improvement. In most cases, the following situations happen often regarding workplace accidents:

  • Slips, trips and falls can be prevented if floors are in good condition and equipment is proper;
  • Stress can be tackled if work-related demands are adjusted to realistic outcomes;
  • Hearing damage can be minimised with hearing protection, frequent controls and training;
  • Harmful substances should be kept in special areas and handled with extreme care;
  • Preventing accidents by working at height can be done by avoiding overloading ladders;

There are also specific accident occurrences in accordance with the industry. For example, respiratory diseases and zoonoses are frequent in agriculture, while people working in waste management and recycling are exposed to microbes, needles and asbestos. Therefore, find what are the most frequent problems in your business sector and tackle them.

Implementing a safety plan includes signage

The HSE requires the safety plan implementation, and while most companies pretend to do it, it doesn’t seem efficient in the long term. That’s why signage can be a good idea to reinforce the importance of safety and encourage employees to take more care of themselves and also look out for others.

First, you must provide first aid kits in more company areas so an emergency can be rapidly solved through employee training. These sets must include all kinds of basic supplies, from bandages, gauze and scissors, but also regular medication. Fire extinguishers must also be present around the building, and every person employed and working there must know how to use them accordingly.

Signage can be useful in many cases if it’s presented properly. It should include fire exit signs, which are vital in the case of a fire hazard. Fire action notice signs can also be beneficial. You may place them somewhere employees can read them without consulting a book, such as bathrooms or hallways.

Always put hazard signs in front of a potential danger to people’s health. No matter how obvious it is to be seen, it can pose real risks to any worker or person walking around the area. But what’s even more critical is having an accident reporting book where anyone can write potential hazards within the building, and you can consult it every day.

Consider multiple types of training

Of course, besides being knowledgeable in their job, people must also be trained on how to act in the case of an emergency for their own well-being. Health and safety training allows them to learn about potential risks in the company and also what are the consequences of an accident. This way, they can protect themselves but also save someone’s life.

Fire safety training is imperative to cover the use of a fire extinguisher or the need for evacuation. DSE training also helps reduce the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome and manage stress in the long term. There’s also manual handling training specially made for adjusting specific workstations and lifting heavy objects. These training sessions should be repeated frequently for new employees but also to remind experienced workers of their responsibilities. At the same time, there are always new health strategies and legal changes regarding worker safety, so employees must constantly be updated on new requirements and ways of tackling this issue.

Final considerations

For ages, employee safety was nothing but a task to mark as done by managers. But now, after so much time enduring hazardous workplaces and companies that breach their safety promises, workers are less likely to have a career in a business not safe for their mental and physical health. So, organisations must do the bare minimum of creating the base of a stable company culture where employees’ health is prioritised and proper equipment and training is provided.

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