Health and safety in the workplace is something that all of us are familiar with, and whether you work in an office, on a buiding site or for the military, then health and safety is going to apply across the board, and it’s something that works both ways – for both employers and employees to ensure that the workplace is a safe and secure environment for everyone who works there.
If you’re looking to make your workplace more safe for your staff, but aren’t really sure how to go about implementing this in your own business, then in this post we’re going to walk you through the importance of having a healthy and safety plan in your business and how to get it set up.
Why workplace health and safety is important:
It helps people become aware of their surroundings
If you have a clear health and safety policy within your workplace then it’s good for enabling your staff to become more aware of their surroundings. This doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t otherwise be aware, for example if they’re in a building site that they wouldn’t know there are heavy or dangerous items around, but sometimes things do need to be pointed out more obviously and if you have clear policies in place and have these printed around and are constantly making people aware of the dangers that exist in the workplace then the more they see it the more they will become aware simply through seeing the policy on a daily basis.
It reduces workplaces stress
Although all jobs are going to come with a certain amount of stress in the workplace, you certainly don’t want your staff to be worrying about things like their safety when they come to work, and also as the company owner or manager you certainly don’t want to be feeling as though you have the safety of others to be concerned about, so by having clear policies and plans in place for keeping the working environment safe for everyone, then it’s going to have a knock-on effect that will reduce stress overall among the staff.
It enables correct use of tools and equipment
Whilst most people will be careful when using things that they know or suspect to be dangerous, if they’ve never used it before, there’s always going to be a risk of them using something incorrectly – even if they think they’re doing it correctly, but by having clear policies in place, you can help your staff understand the correct ways to use things like heavy machinery or dangerous equipment in the workplace to help keep them safe.
How To Create A Plan
Just like every other area of your business, health and safety requires some planning ahead, so you’re going to have to make sure that this is done in a way that benefits everyone and isn’t just thrown together at the last minute.
It’s also important to remember that every business is different and whilst there are some health and safety policies that will always apply across the board regardless of the business, there are others that will be specific – for example, an office and a heavy haulage company will have some very different equipment in use that requires different policies, as will a restaurant and a hospital, even though many of the things especially around hygiene and personal safety will be very similar.
So, it’s always important to make sure that you’re taking your own business into consideration when creating your plan for health and safety so that you know exactly what kinds of things you need to have in place.
If you’re finding this a bit overwhelming or confusing, then here are some of the steps you can take when creating and implementing your health and safety plan for your business.
Take a look around and decide what needs to be done to keep people safe
The very first step for implementing your health and safety plan is to have a clear understanding of what actually needs to be done. So, for example, let’s say you’re the owner of a new digital agency and you’re just about to move into an office and start hiring a team, then you’re going to want to have a complete safety check of the building carried out to make sure that all the electrical systems are safe, there are no dangerous materials in the building, etc.
If you find that there are any problems, then those will need to be taken care of as soon as possible. Whilst work is being carried out, you will want to ensure that you have the correct expandable barriers and signage in place, to warn of any dangers and to ensure the safety of everyone working there, including you.
Get the right tools and equipment in place
When you run a business and are using an office and hiring people to work there, then getting the right equipment, not only to help people do their job correctly but to help them keep safe is crucial. This means getting the right kinds of desks and chairs that will help support your staff when they’re going to be sitting for long periods and making sure the computers they use are set up correctly, and also making sure that the lighting in the room is as natural as possible so that people will be suffering from fewer headaches.
Arrange for everyone to undergo the appropriate training
Of course, as the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. This is especially true when you’re dealing with hiring staff – you can provide the tools and equipment to help keep them safe, but you can’t make them use it if they decide not to. However, in order to keep yourself protected from a legal standpoint, you have to be ensuring that you’re at least supplying people with the information on how to use the equipment properly and this means that you have to supply them with the correct training and make sure they understand it.
If you start to see that people aren’t following the health and safety policies as set out in the training, then you need to let them know that this isn’t okay and will result in a warning and then dismissal if they continue not to follow it since they could also be putting the lives and safety of others at risk by not doing so.
Continue training and observing
Although you certainly don’t need to be training your staff every month on the same thing, regular refresher courses and training on new equipment are a great way of keeping people up to date, so it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re regularly training your staff on new things that you bring in as well as refreshing them on the initial training they got when they first started or when you brought that policy in.
Have things supervised to ensure policies are being followed
This is not about breathing down people’s necks, but simply ensuring that things are being followed when it comes to health and safety, so having a supervisor who can monitor any issues or even just someone who can be available to answer questions that people have is not a bad idea.
Ensure that policies are written down and visible
Once you have the policies in place, then it’s important that people are able to be aware of them on a daily basis – especially since it’s easy to forget small things or be distracted. This means that you have things written down with regards to your health and safety policies and display them in common areas where they’re easily visible to your staff.
Perform regular reviews
All business is about learning and evolving, so when it comes to health and safety, it’s just another area in which you should be constantly growing and learning. A good way to do this is by performing reviews of the health and safety policies to see what’s working and what’s not, asking staff what they feel could be better or what could be removed, and ensuring that you actually implement those changes so that your staff will feel taken care of by working for you.