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A Guide To Workplace Safety

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that all visitors, guests and employees that enter workplace premises are kept safe. Alongside this, is it important the employees understand their rights and the legislation that is in place to protect them. A report from Finder.com found that 626,000 injuries occurred in the workplace between 2017 and 2018 with 1.4 million workers suffering from a work-related illness during the same period. 147 people were killed at work and over 30 million working days were lost due to work-related illnesses or injury. Accidents in the workplace are having a significant impact, not only on our economy but also the livelihoods of many. And understanding the methods needed to minimise this is important.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about workplace safety – regardless of your industry.

What regulations are in place?

For the benefit of all within a company, there are numerous legislations and regulations written in the UK’s legal system to protect the health and safety of people at work. It is the responsibility of the employer to uphold these. If not, some come with significant fines and the threat of closing down businesses. Below are some of the most relevant to workplace safety.

Health & Safety at Work Regulation

Originally put into effect in 1974, this regulation was reviewed again in 1994. It sets out the responsibilities that an employer has towards both it’s staff and the general public. This law requires businesses to take appropriate activity to minimise the risk of hazards and risks on health & safety. It includes information on the importance of risk assessments, minimising potentially dangerous risks, appointing a competent person to oversee activity, providing training and education and having a written health & safety policy in place. The Health & Safety at Work Regulation applies to an employer, regardless of industry. However, businesses that have fewer than 5 employees are not legally required to make notes or write down information discovered during risk assessments.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Covering basic health, safety and welfare issues, this regulation is in place to establish the minimum requirements for a workplace. It extends to most workplaces, other than construction sites, those taking place on a ship or in a min. The main requirements here are the need to provide adequate working environments (good lighting, heating, ventilation and workspaces) as well as staff facilities such as toilets and safe passageways to prevent falls.

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

In environments where Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required to protect the safety of employers, this regulation states that it should be entirely free of charge. This relates to settings where these risks cannot be controlled or eliminated. The legislation covers things such as asbestos removal, excessive noise or exposure to radiation. Here, PPE refers to items such as:

  • Protective helmets.
  • Ear protection.
  • High-vis clothing.
  • Safety footwear.
  • Harnesses for working at height.
  • RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment).

The regulations also put the responsibility on the employee to ensure the PPE provided is used appropriately. It dictates that the items given should be worked in accordance with instructions, that it should be returned as appropriate, that it should be visible examined before use and any defects or loss reported immediately.

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

The purpose of this regulation is to minimise the risk of workplace-related injuries as a result of manual handling or lifting. It states that employees need to avoid the implementation of hazardous manual handling where possible. In the event where this cannot be eliminated, there needs to be a full and professional assessment done of the risk and actions put in place to minimise the hazard. All employees must be provided with information on the weight of each load and full training should be given before the task is carried out.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

Also known as PUWER, these regulations put the responsibility on the employee to ensure equipment is used appropriately. It states that any machinery or equipment used needs to be suitable, safe for use, well maintained and only used by those appropriately trained to do so. Any PPE or protective measures required need to be installed and in full working order. And, machines and equipment need to be used in accordance with any specific requirements. These rules apply to any appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work.

How to protect your employees at work

Along with abiding by the regulations stated above, it is important that you take appropriate measures to protect your employees.

Provide training

One of the most effective ways to minimise the risk of injury is to ensure that all employees are fully educated and informed of the right methods. Providing regular and adequate training is the responsibility of the employer. Ensure that any new information is passed on in a clear and concise manner. And allow employees to ask questions and challenge new procedures too.

Use safety signs

Safety signs are designed to ensure that information is clearly and effectively spread throughout visitors, guests and employees. Some are vital to health & safety, such as First Aid Signs that ensure life-saving equipment can be found quickly or Fire Safety Signs to allow people to evacuate quickly. Others, such as Mandatory Signs or No Smoking Signs can be used to implement restrictions around the premises. However you choose to use them, avoid hanging too many safety signs in one place. This bombardment of information can become confusing and cause instructions to be missed.

Keep areas clean

Regular cleaning and tidying will minimise the risk of slips and hazards. Tidy environments allow employees to move freely, without raising any additional risks. They also improve the ability of individuals to leave a property quickly in the event of a fire or other emergency.

Reduce the risk of slips and trips

Keep wires safely secured away. Ensure spills are cleaned up quickly and efficiently. Check flooring regularly to make sure none of it is raised or broken. Slips, trips and falls are some of the most common workplace accidents and action should be taken every day to minimise these.

Encourage discussions

Create a working environment where colleagues feel comfortable enough to air their concerns. Generally, the employees that work at your premises every single day are more likely to flag issues and threats to their mental health. Host regular meetings and encourage them to come with you with suggestions or recommendations for improvement.

Workplace safety is vital and creating an enjoyable environment for your employees will help you retain them and boost productivity.