Phil Turner, head of digital at facilities and building maintenance specialists Direct365, believes companies shouldn’t become complacent about safety in their workplace. To help mark this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work (April 28) he shares some expert tips on the steps employers can take to protect workers
Every year, the International Labour Organisation holds a World Day for Safety and Health at Work, with this year’s theme being workplace stress.
The yearly event is as much about raising greater awareness of health and safety in the workplace as it is about encouraging a more wholesome look at a business’ practises to ensure that the needs and safety of employees, visitors and customers are held to the highest standard… every day.
We conducted a survey of over 550 people, asking whether they believed their employer could do more to improve health and safety in their workplace. One third of people stated that they feel their employer COULD do more.
It can be all too easy to put standards and practises in place for monitoring health and safety in the workplace, and allowing them to go unnoticed. Taking a proactive stance on health and safety has been highlighted as an important factor to UK employees – any changes, however small, can go a long way in not only ensuring a more compliant workplace, but also settling the minds and concerns of employees, visitors and customers alike.
People spend a lot of their lives at work, so it is essential that they are kept as safe as possible during that time. Employers may believe that their work environments are up to scratch but, as our research shows, there is always more that they can be doing to make improvements, whether that change is big or small.
What changes can you make?
To mark the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, we spoke to several industry experts in the Health & Safety field to garner some tips that employees can use to make their working environments safer and more compliant going forward…
Provide more basic training
Whilst the UK is well known for stringent health and safety procedures, this isn’t the case in every country. We spoke to Phil Banks, the managing director of Health and Safety Training, who states that companies that hire from outside of the UK workforce should take steps to ensure that everyone understands the rules of their workplace and the part they play in keeping everyone, including themselves, safe and healthy.
Banks says: “Of increasing importance for the future of health and safety is providing workers with basic skills training, such as English and maths; this is especially important for the increasing number of migrant workers who may have learned their trade under a different culture of health and safety.
“Ensuring these workers have the basic skills to communicate with colleagues and employers will help them to integrate into their workplace more effectively, which in turn will allow them to develop a better understanding of health and safety regulations.”
Have the right equipment
Every workplace and environment is different with regards to the equipment it uses and relies on everyday. Safety requirements in a warehouse will differ to those in an office or restaurant, for example.
Having the right equipment for your business to ensure that your workplace is both working and compliant with the right regulations for your industry should be a high priority for employers.
Conducting regular checks around the office is a simple way for businesses to steer clear of potential accidents. Employers should regularly review their safety procedures, and ensure that all current and existing employees are aware of them. This includes the locations of fire extinguishers and fire exits, the safety of each individual’s working area and where the first aid kits are. Any missing or damaged equipment should be replaced as soon as possible, and regular training sessions should be held for those who have fire safety or first aid responsibilities.
Plan for the worst
Being reactive, instead of proactive, is dangerous when it comes to health and safety at work. Making changes and implementing greater safety measures after an incident has occurred simply isn’t good enough.
Businesses must prepare for the worst, in this respect, and have concrete plans in place that predict and aim to reduce any problems or incidents that may occur in the workplace.
We spoke to Jess Penny, general manager of sales at Penny Hydraulics, about this.
Penny says: “Have a concrete action plan for as many potential accident and emergency scenarios as possible. This will include an order of the events that need to take place in the event of each emergency scenario. In a panicked situation, people need to know what they are required to do and in what order.”
Work to reduce stress levels
With the theme of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work being ‘Workplace Stress’, putting a focus on reducing employee stress levels is a great starting point for your business.
It isn’t a sugar-coated secret that work can be stressful. We all know it, and 92.4% of us admit to it, according to Skillsoft.
No matter how much you enjoy your job, you’re going to have deadlines, executive expectations, targets to hit and budgets to stay within. Businesses don’t need to tell employees to work less and take more holidays to reduce stress levels – there are plenty of other ways to combat it, such as:
Exploring your stress triggers
Music and other stimulants
Promoting healthy eating
Having office plants or foliage put in place
The goal of The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is to highlight the need for a continued and proactive effort to reduce the dangers and problems that might occur in any given workplace, and to put the focus on being proactive about your health and safety policies and procedures, as opposed to doing the minimal possible to stay within the law.
Putting a fresh focus on improving health and safety at work is a great place to start…