With so much to do at work on a daily basis, be it overseeing factory work or ordering industrial paint, it can be easy to let basic health and safety practices slip – but this is simply not acceptable. If anyone is injured on your premises you could have a costly lawsuit on your hands, so here’s how to minimise risks and ensure employees stay safe
Control hazardous substances
If you work with dangerous chemicals like acids, lubricants, detergents, chlorine or anything else considered harmful, you must do all you can to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002. This might mean reading the safety data sheet of any products that are ‘dangerous to supply’ in order to really understand the risks, or it might mean implementing control measures such as reducing the amount of people who come into contact with such products. You might also decide to get rid of harmful products altogether, switching them for safer alternatives or researching those that give off less harmful fumes.
Of course, thanks to scientific research, we are now more aware of things that can cause us harm, with substances like lead paint being replaced by the more user-friendly varieties offered today. That said, there are still very toxic chemicals out there, as well as those that are explosive, flammable and dangerous to the environment. Make sure you know what you’re working with.
Carry out a thorough risk assessment
No matter what you do for a living or what business you run, you must carry out a thorough risk assessment of your premises. Not only will this help you to identify anything that could be putting staff at risk, it will enable you to make your workplace safer. Not sure how to go about this procedure? Well, the Health and Safety Executive advises employers to use the following five steps as a guide.
Step 1: Identify hazards
It’s the responsibility of all employers to assess the health and safety risks faced by workers including physical, mental, chemical and biological dangers.
Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how
When assessing staff you must take into account the risks faced by full-time and part-time staff as well as agency workers and contractors. Employers must also review what staff members do in all the different locations they are employed to ensure they’re being looked after in the best possible way.
Step 3: Assess the risks and take action
Once you’ve identified risky behaviours, activities, procedures and equipment you should take steps to lower the risk levels. This might mean lowering the hours someone works to improve their mental health or simply providing additional personal protective equipment for those faced with hazardous tasks.
What’s more, the Health and Safety (Safety Sign and Signals) Regulations 1996 require signs to be used to convey relevant messages, so investing in the correct posters and signs could be all it takes to help protect those who work for you.
Step 4: Make a record of the findings
If you hire five or more staff, the law requires you to write down all main findings from the risk assessment, so don’t forget this important detail.
Step 5: Review the risk assessment
A risk assessment is designed to keep your workforce safe, so make sure you keep it under constant review to ensure agreed safe working practices continue. You should also take into account any new working practices, machinery, job roles, more demanding work targets and other elements of work that could impact health and safety.
Minimising risk is extremely important at work, so do all you can to keep you and your staff – as well as visitors and clients – as safe as possible.