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In the workplace, having an effective health and safety program must become the norm. Regardless of whether your employees are working in the office or on a project site. It’s your responsibility to ensure that any potential health and safety risks are in check.
Prioritizing occupational health and safety also improves morale and productivity. Stress and accidents are major causes of employee absenteeism, and these impromptu absences push your business into a vicious cycle. Since their colleagues are unavailable, your remaining staff has more work to do, and this results in more absences.
In the long run, health and safety improvements will help increase your profitability. Your team will feel more motivated working in an environment where they feel appreciated. Knowing their wellbeing is valuable will improve their productivity.
An effective health and safety program goes beyond a set of rules printed out on paper. You need clear communication and employee engagement. Thus, this will ensure that your employees actually follow the rules in the handbook. Thus, it will help to keep them safe. Unengaged and poorly informed employees can be your biggest risk.
In the past, a lack of concern for workers’ wellbeing was not at all uncommon. Some examples include cramped conditions, hazardous equipment and faulty procedures. Fortunately, these incidents of poor occupational health and safety belong to a bygone era.
Working conditions have improved significantly in the past few decades, thanks to reforms in legislation and implementation. By law, businesses have a responsibility to provide their workers with a safe environment. Neglecting this duty can lead to sanctions and costly lawsuits. For instance, what if an employee has an accident and gets injured on the job because their employer failed to take the necessary precautions? That employee can get compensation. You can read more about this law by visiting HowMuchCompensation.co.uk for more information in detail.
So, do you want to promote a positive health and safety culture that minimizes the risk of accidents and equips your team with the knowledge to avoid injuries? If so, here’s what you need to know.
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Health and Safety Laws and Regulations
The UK Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 protect workers’ right to an environment that keeps health and safety risks under control. So, as the employer, it’s your legal duty to protect your employees from occupational injuries and illnesses. This extends to indirect employees and members of your supply chain while on your premises. Neglecting this duty can result in legal action against your company and damage to your company’s reputation.
If you’re operating in an industry with greater risks, your legal responsibilities increase accordingly. This refers to sectors like construction, agriculture, forestry and defence. Having said that, even the average office-based company needs to have protocols set in place to mitigate potential risks.
The Health and Safety Act of 1974 includes regulations regarding:
- Training – appropriate training aims to ensure that all employees understand the health and safety regulations
- Welfare provisions for all staff members
- Proper monitoring and control over the working environment. The company must have procedures set in place to ensure that work-related tasks have low risk
These regulations are updated within the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations of 1992. This includes employee rights to proper lighting and ventilation, adequate workspace, break areas, drinking water and washing facilities.
The Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations 1992 was amended in 2002. It concerned employees who work with DSE like computers, laptops and smartphones for more than one hour a day.
By law, their employers have to take measures to protect them from health risks associated with using DSE. This means proper inspection of DSE workstations, ancillary equipment if needed, free eyesight examinations and regular breaks.
In the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999, the emphasis was placed on risk assessment, clarifying the employer’s legal obligations and how to uphold them. Businesses with five or more employees must perform regular risk assessments, recording all shortcomings, risk areas and other relevant findings.
Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations
Employers also have to report specific types of accidents, injuries or illnesses under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations of 2013 (RIDDOR). These include fatal and non-fatal injuries, incidents that require more than seven days of time off, incidents involving gases, near misses and occupational diseases.
Construction (Design and Management) Regulations of 2007 was explicitly aimed at the construction sector. It contains basic health and safety regulations and a clause that states everyone on the construction site has a responsibility to enforce safe working practices. This includes contractors, designers, workers and clients.
The Work at Height Regulations of 2005 deals with regulations specific to the dangers inherent to working at extreme heights. The work is pre-planned to minimize the workers’ safety risks. This also ensures workers must receive proper equipment and training.
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Why Are Health and Safety Important to a Business?
Health and safety policies protect employees from occupational accidents, injuries and illnesses, while also protecting their employers from costly sanctions and lawsuits.
Poor working conditions are not just dangerous to the workers’ health, they also have a negative impact on engagement, morale and productivity. Incidents resulting from failure to enforce health and safety regulations can go public and damage a company’s reputation. This will affect how potential investors, clients, and business partners view the company in question.
Accidents can financially cripple a business. For instance the missed workdays, investigations, legal fees and sanctions can add up. Even if developing and maintaining health and safety programs require some financial investment, the consequences of not having them are much more expensive.
Lastly, but most importantly, you foster health and safety in the workplace because you’re legally bound to do so. It’s that simple. It’s true these measures boost morale, engagement, employee loyalty, attract talent and investors, increase productivity and your bottom line. However, the key reason why you should care about respecting health and safety regulations is that it’s your legal and moral duty as an employer.
There are benefits like the ones that we’ve just mentioned. They can be powerful motivators. However, caring about your employees and about having a well-managed business should motivate you the most.
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