Don't Slip Up When it Come to Ensuring Workplace Safety
It's easy to associate workplace accidents with environments such as building sites, factories, quarries and other places that involve obviously hazardous working conditions. In reality even the most seemingly harmless workplace may be a hidden minefield of potential accidents.
Every employer is both morally and legally bound to protect the health and safety of employees and as a business manager or leader you may have some responsibility for ensuring health and safety in your immediate work environment.
The commonest accidents in the workplace occur as a result of slips, trips and falls. For new managers, or for those who have not had previous responsibility for workplace safety, appropriate training, such as Maguire Training's own Slips, Trips and Falls course is essential both for protecting your colleagues and for compliance with legislation.
How to assess workplace accident risks
The UK's Health and Safety Executive suggests a five-step process to assessing risk in your workplace. Remember that a hazard is any item or situation that may cause harm such as an loose electrical wire, an open drawer at floor level or an unstable cabinet for example. A risk assessment evaluates the likelihood that somebody may be harmed by a hazard and the potential seriousness of the harm that might be sustained.
In simple terms, the HSE's recommended risk assessment process is as follows:
Step 1 - Identify potential hazards
Examine every area of your working environment to identify potential hazards. These might include wet floor surfaces, trailing cables, uneven floorboards or carpet tiles, poorly-lit areas and anything else that might conceivably contribute to an accident in the workplace. Consult with employees to ask whether they have noticed any hazards.
Step 2 - Identify those people most likely at risk from the hazard
A hazard may be confined to a particular area in which only certain employees work such as a Post Room. Identifying the people at risk, and the way in which hazards might harm them can help to suggest an appropriate solution.
Step 3 - Decide upon the best course of action for dealing with hazards
The best solution is to remove hazards from the workplace altogether but this is not always possible. The next best alternative is to take every reasonably practicable measure to control risk and protect employees. This may include the installation of barriers or signage, the re-routing of cables or the provision of protective clothing or equipment. Typically, the cost of implementing adequate hazard precautions is lower than the cost of dealing with a workplace accident.
Step 4 - Document your findings and implement solutions
Although maintaining a written record of risk assessments is not obligatory in workplaces where five or fewer staff are employed, keeping simple notes of the hazards identified, the date and the remedial action taken can be useful for future reviews and assessments. Larger businesses should keep more detailed records which indicate that sufficient checks were made and staff at risk identified, hazards have been dealt with and risks lowered and that staff have been made aware.
Step 5 - Periodically review and re-assess workplace risk
Workplaces change over time whether due to refurbishment works, replacement of d?cor or furnishings or the addition or removal of equipment. Re-evaluating your risk assessment every so often helps to identify changes to existing risks or new risks, helping to prevent accidents before they can happen.
Ensuring the health and safety of employees in the work environment is not a task that should be taken lightly; hanging a few posters around the place is not enough. With correct and appropriate training managers and leaders can acquire the skills and knowledge that will enable them to identify and remedy potential hazards and remain compliant with health and safety regulations. In addition to classroom-based courses, Maguire Training provides a range of workplace health and safety training modules via our E-learning platform. Online training, such as our Health and Safety - the Basics course, is accessible around the clock via PC, laptop or smartphone, allowing delegates to receive the training they need whenever and wherever they choose.