Health and safety should be a critical priority for businesses of all sizes. The wellbeing and the safety of employees is vitally important for businesses and can have a significant impact on all operations.
Depending upon the nature of the business and the industry, the health and safety regulations are likely to vary. It's important for companies to review new compliance requirements and make sure that they abide by them.
Being health and safety compliant reduces the risk of prosecution, fines, and reputational damage, and so improves the likelihood of positive business performance. Health and safety software can help you capitalize on all these potential benefits, too.
Understanding Health and Safety
Health and safety primarily refers to having a safe work environment that mitigates risk of workplace incidents, and values each and every employee.
Health and safety refers to the practices, policies, procedures, and laws designed to protect workers from potential hazards in their workplaces.
It takes into account physical, mental, emotional, social, environmental, and financial factors that may impact employee health or cause injury or illness. It also includes both short-term risks such as slips or falls during a shift as well as long-term risks associated with repetitive tasks or hazardous substances.
The goal of health and safety is to reduce risks associated with working conditions by eliminating hazards or controlling them so that workers are not exposed to them. This includes everything from ensuring proper ventilation systems are installed to providing staff with personal protective equipment (PPE). Additionally, employers should be aware of any applicable laws when it comes to health and safety in the workplace.
Health And Safety Rules Are There to Protect Employees
Clearly, there are some industries and roles that are deemed more ‘risky’ than others. However, it is important that good practices are implemented across all areas so that employees do not face unnecessary or uncontrolled risks when performing their jobs.
The area of health and safety is subject to many laws and regulations and failure to comply with the law can leave businesses open to prosecution and countless financial, reputational, and practical consequences.
If you're dealing with chemicals specifically, the European COSHH regulations may apply to your business; view our webinar to ensure you're in compliance with all COSHH standards. By promoting best practices throughout the company, both the employer and employees can avoid these obstacles.
This excellent video by Blue Sky Media and BASF explains some of their on-site health and safety procedures. It is a wonderful example of how to communicate health and safety practices to employees and visitors alike.
Benefits of Health and Safety in The Workplace
Having best practice in regard to health and safety is always morally right, but there’s also a very strong business case for promoting it too. A company operating with a strong health and safety culture can:
- Boost staff morale and productivity - a safer workplace is a happier workplace! This can lead to improved staff turnover rates.
- Reduce risks, ultimately lessening the likelihood of incidents - less paperwork, fewer staff absences, and less nasty fines!
- Improve efficiency.
- Avoid reputational damage and enjoy lower insurance costs.
Rather than being an expense, health and safety procedures should be considered an investment, as the results are just as important as any other measurable business objective. Check out our guide to establishing a positive workplace culture to learn more.
Additionally, properly managing health and safety can help minimize liability if an accident does occur onsite since employers have taken steps to ensure the wellbeing of their staff members.
It Encourages Social Responsibility
Over recent years, the importance of corporate social responsibility has become more apparent. There is an expectation from society that businesses are held accountable for their ethical practices, and so it has never been more important for businesses to ensure that their employees, visitors, and customers are never put in harm’s way during the course of business operations.
The Importance of Health and Safety Culture
Clearly, the risks that face the workforce differ from industries and roles. However, regardless of this, managers of all positions must enforce a culture of health and safety best practice. The Health and Safety Laboratory have produced this video to explain what health and safety culture means to them.
This can be done in several ways, some of which are outlined below.
1. Spreading Awareness of the Laws
The presentation of various Acts throughout the workplace is essential by law. However, companies should go further by discussing the workplace's various risks at hand and the process as to how they should be reported. By spreading awareness, this will promote best practice and improve the situation of health and safety at work.
The best way to spread awareness about different laws is to prepare posters and have them installed in areas where they'd be easily visible to all employees. It's imperative for employers to provide workers with information about how different laws are being implemented in the workplace and how they should change their work practices.
2. Learning from Your Mistakes
While it is of vital importance to eliminate risk as much as possible, incidents or near misses will inevitably occur from time to time. However, these should act as a learning tool for all to gain from so that similar situations are avoided in the future. This can be achieved through good communication up and downstream from employees and managers to ensure that all are informed about how to avoid nasty accidents.
One of the best ways to do this is by setting up a reporting workflow which allows employees to easily report any near misses or hazards that they've identified. For instance, near misses are generally a clear indicator of a serious hazard and must be given appropriate importance.
For employers who haven't done so in the past, it's vitally important that they learn from their mistakes and make changes accordingly.
3. Blame Culture, Getting the Balance Right
Sure, reporting near misses seems easy - but this is only likely to happen if the employees believe that they will not be punished consequently. Therefore, it is important for employees to have the balance of knowing that they can report incidents without punishment yet know the importance of being responsible and avoiding reckless and unacceptable behavior.
Providing a safe and secure platform to employees is of critical importance in this scenario. Employees should feel that their opinions are valued, and that they won't be subjected to any serious punishments when reporting near misses.
4. Ditch the Paper
Times of incident reporting via paper forms and spreadsheets should be long gone! For businesses to have a coherent, well-communicated health and safety culture, a consistent, live cloud-based system is a modern-day essential.
Paper reporting is resource-intensive and is generally outdated, primarily because threats in the workplace are always evolving. More and more businesses are now moving towards the cloud as it allows them to update standards on the go.
It's also much more convenient for employees to report any major incidents through an online portal than it is to fill out a form. This not only helps in gleaning important insights about safety performance, but it also allows businesses to quickly roll out new safety guidelines and make sure every employee is aware of the changes.
The Bottom Line
Health and safety is an essential part of any business operations; it’s not only important for reducing risk but also for protecting employee wellbeing both physically and mentally while they are on the job.
Employers need to make sure they understand all relevant laws regarding health and safety in the workplace so they can develop appropriate policies that will keep everyone safe while still maximizing efficiency within their organizations.
Using a customisable health and safety solution like EcoOnline gives companies the option to improve health and safety and gather important data that allows them to make informed decisions about safety policies and procedures.