Workplace accidents are among the greatest issues facing business today and authorities can impose severe penalties on both employers and employees who do not take seriously their responsibility to keep a safe work environment. With a multitude of information and guides available from governments and training organisations to help maintain safety in the workplace, there is no excuse not to have your house in order. To get you on your way, here are five steps to take to keep your workplace safe.
Look for Hazards Yourself
Perhaps the best way to ensure a safe workplace is to walk through the site in search of things that might be dangerous or constitute a hazard. Start by looking for the obvious such as scaffolding with gaps in the railings, chemicals left in the open or malfunctioning equipment. And don’t hesitate to seek outside advice if you are unsure. An organisation like Safe at Heights can provide a wealth of information on regulations, equipment and inspection procedures where staff working above the ground are concerned.
Great information comes from the workers themselves. It is a good idea to encourage communication between workers, even if they are employed in different roles and don’t mix on a day-to-day basis. The workers are usually the first to spot a safety issue and regular discussions between themselves can identify problems before they occur. Organise formal meetings – or ‘tool box talks’ – each morning to discuss safety issues that arose the day before.
Complete a Safety Audit
Use the information you have gathered from staff and a walk through to complete a safety audit. This should not only document any potential hazards that have been identified, but also include strategies taken to eliminate the risks. If accidents have occurred, note the type of injuries sustained, if any, and the likelihood of another accident in similar circumstances. The list should be reviewed and updated regularly.
Document near Misses and Injuries
All staff should be required to document any accidents on site, regardless of how small or seemingly trivial. This should include ‘near misses’ where an accident or mishap would have occurred but was averted by the actions of a worker or luck. By looking at the patterns of accidents and near misses it should be possible to determine if any systemic problems exist.
Fix any Problems
This should go without saying, but it is surprising the number of workplaces that identify potential hazards but fail to follow-up and address them before an accident occurs. There is little point going to the trouble of identifying potential risks and documenting them if you are going to ignore their existence until it is too late. Your first aim should be to remove the risk all together. But if this is not possible – as risk is inherent some industries – take steps to reduce the potential of accidents resulting from those risks.
These steps to a safer workplace are not just common sense, they are in many places the law. Safety is not something that should be ignored. A great deal of expense and heartache can be avoided by paying a little attention to the risks and hazards around you.