Health and safety may be dull, but it’s a necessity. Failing to meet certain health and safety requirements could get you into a lot of trouble. Here are a few common mistakes and oversights that businesses make when it comes to implementing health and safety – are you making these mistakes?
Long-term health risks are being ignored
A common mistake when it comes to health and safety is focusing too much on the safety aspect and not on the health part. Many health risks in business are long term – doing the same action over and over again could cause an RSI (repetitive strain injury), whilst constant exposure to noise could cause deafness later in life. Even sitting down for long periods can cause damage to joints.
It’s not unusual for companies to get sued thirty or forty years down the line for an injury that was directly the result of work. Research into these long-term health risks and find ways of minimise damage such as buying ergonomic office chairs, teaching techniques to prevent RSIs and buying headphone for protection against noise exposure. Simply teaching people the risks and having your employees sign a signature to say that they are aware of this could help to cover you legally, although where possible you should always implement some kind of prevention method.
Employees aren’t taking regular breaks
Many employers are guilty of not giving their employees the regular breaks they’re legally entitled to. Some busy jobs make it impractical to take breaks regularly, however in some professions that involve operating hazardous machinery or taking high risk decisions this could be a health and safety risk as your employees may lose concentration after this period and potentially have an accident. Try to enforce regular breaks so that all your employees are always working at their best.
Not all equipment is regularly cleaned
Whilst many companies have a cleaning process in place, there may not always be time to clean everything. Many offices hire cleaners to do general work such as hoovering and cleaning desks, but equipment such as computer keyboards can often be missed. One study into office cleanliness found that the average keyboard contained 20,000 times more germs than a toilet seat! If employees keep getting sick, unclean equipment could be to blame.
You don’t have to spend every day deep cleaning your premises however having the occasional cleaning blitz could be worthwhile. You could hire a cleaning company to do this for you over a weekend to save you the time and effort and ensure maximum cleanliness.
Nobody on shift is a qualified first aider
There needs to always be someone on shift that knows basic first aid. This way, if someone gets hurt – be it client or staff member – there will always be someone around to attend to them. Getting qualified in first aid needn’t be a lengthy of expensive process – you can obtain CPR certification online without having to pay for the training itself. If you’re not always in the office, make sure that at least one of your subordinates is trained up. Giving everyone basic first aid training can be a failsafe measure to ensure that there’s always someone around to help in the event of an incident.
No-one is checking the first aid kit
First aid kits can often go neglected until somebody physically needs them. People may take plasters and bandages out but never replace them, which could lead to a situation one day in which there are no medical supplies left because nobody thought to restock. Make sure to check the first aid kit at least once a year to ensure that there are enough supplies within it. You should also check the condition of the contents – make sure that nobody has rummaged around inside and forgot to put the cap on a bottle or that there aren’t any blood stains from a previous user.
A first aid kit should contain dressings of various sizes, plasters, bandages, pins, sterile eye pads and plastic gloves. A health and safety handbook is also worth storing within your first aid kit – you can write this up yourself or find a pre-existing guide.
There’s no fire safety plan in place
Many employers ensure that basic fire safety measures are put in place such as owning a fire extinguisher and labelling the fire exit, but few employers ensure that there’s a clear fire safety plan. Your employees should always know where the nearest fire exit is and where the nearest assembly point is situated – it’s worth organising regular drills so that your employees know how to react.
The fire alarm has never been tested
It’s important to test your fire alarm too to check that it is working correctly, especially if it’s an old alarm. This should be done once a year – it could be done in conjunction with a fire drill. Testing this alarm will leave you safe in the knowledge that if there is a fire, you will be warned.
If you need to buy another fire alarm, you can do so online. It’s worth reading reviews to find the best alarms for you needs.
Health and safety equipment is supplied but not enforced
National rules may govern that you have to supply health and safety equipment, but that you may not have to enforce that it be worn. Whilst you may still be covered legally, you can be certain to prevent injury by enforcing that health and safety equipment be worn. This will stop people refusing to wear equipment out of peer pressure just because it doesn’t look cool.
You can buy health and safety equipment such as hard hats and safety goggles online. Make sure to supply enough equipment to go around. This equipment should be regularly inspected for damage and to ensure that nothing is missing – by introducing a rule that all safety equipment is stored at the premises, you can prevent people taking equipment home and forgetting to bring it.
Insufficient training is being given on use of hazardous items
The fast pace of many work environments means that training is often rushed. Many companies look for applicants that can get stuck in as soon as possible because they don’t have the time or resources to spend on training. Such lackadaisical training however can be dangerous in some roles that involve hazardous machinery or substances. Supplying a handbook or using signage may legally cover you, but these shortcuts won’t prevent injury and could lead to some nasty accidents. Make sure that employees are thoroughly trained in how to deal with hazards – tell them how to do it, show them how to do it and then get them to demonstrate it themselves. If you don’t have the time to do this, you could always send new employees away on a health and safety course that could cover all the basics (although this may not work when it comes to operating specific machines).