All workplaces have, by law, to be as safe as possible. There are certain standards that each business has to achieve and rules that have to be abided by in order to maintain a safe, pleasant working environment, both for the workers and any visitors.
Of course it’s not just down to the management; everyone has to do their bit, from noticing a water spill and cleaning it up to making sure the guards along the conveyor chain are still there, protecting fingers.
How do you make your workplace safer?
Every workplace is different and each industry – and even different buildings within the same industry – has its unique risk profile. Even the more sedentary offices have their own risks, so the best place to start if you’re looking to make your premises safer is by doing the maths. Well, the research, anyway.
Talking to staff and finding out what stresses they face every day, as well as any recurring snags, injuries or worries they have is a good start. So is exploring government advice and regulations to see if there’s anything you could change.
Focus on these five main areas:
Reduce stress in the workplace
It’s been shown that job stress is a major contributor to heart problems, as well as mental and emotional difficulties. It can also lead to poor life choices, like excessive drinking, and also increased absenteeism. If you can do anything to boost morale, do it!
The human body isn’t meant to be in one position all day, every day, or to repeat the same movements for hours on end for five days a week. Encourage staff to take a break every couple of hours – go for a quick coffee, take a lunch break, do some stretches. Just this slight adjustment can help to overcome the potential problems of sitting still or hunching over an assembly line all day.
These days, we know all about the negative effects of badly-designed furniture and also about the hassles of poor office or shopfloor layout. There’s lots of help and advice available, as well as ergonomic furniture and equipment that work with the human body. It’s been designed for a reason, so use it!
Use safe lifting methods
A major cause of back problems is poor lifting technique. There’s lots of information available online, in videos and step-by-step guides. You can also bring in someone to demonstrate safe lifting – you keep your head up, hold the load close into your body, bend your knees slightly and don’t twist your back. Using the wrong lifting technique can have a very sudden effect, or it may be a slow-burner, but it will catch up with you sooner or later!
Make sure everyone has – and wears – the right personal protective equipment (PPE)
No hat, no job! This is the sign outside many a building site and for good reason. Wearing the right PPE – ear defenders, hard hat, goggles, respirators, steel toed boots and so on – reduces the number of accidents in a workplace. If an accident does happen, this equipment can lessen the severity of any injuries or even prevent them altogether.
Lastly, make sure everyone feels they can speak up and alert colleagues and managers to potential hazards. You work together, so look out for each other.