When you’re trying to get a business off the ground and turning a healthy profit, there are obviously going to be a lot of things on your mind. You’re going to have to worry about the strength of your branding and marketing campaigns, what the competition is doing and how you can be better at it, and forming a friendly and productive company culture. With all these different factors relating to the future success of your business, it can be easy to overlook one hugely important thing: workplace safety. While this isn’t the most exhilarating part of running a business, it’s hugely important, and neglecting it can drive your company into the ground faster than you’d believe. Here’s a guide to reducing the risk of workplace injuries.
Have a Health and Safety Policy, and Communicate It
If you’re running a business without a health and safety policy, you’re breaking the law, so make sure that changes! Hopefully you were responsible enough to draft one in the earliest stages of your business, so now you need to ensure that all your staff are aware of it. Whether you’re making it a part of your induction packs, staff handbooks, or pinning it up on a notice board somewhere, make sure that it’s in writing and somewhere where everyone can review it as and when they want. You can’t expect anyone to stick to the rules when they don’t know what they are!
Carry Out a Risk Assessment
All businesses, regardless of size or niche, are required by law to perform a health and safety risk assessment. Set some time aside and assess all the potential risks in your workplace. Are any of your employees required to work from height or carry any heavy items? Is there anything that could cause your employees to trip and hurt themselves in their working environment? Are their workstations forcing them or encouraging them to assume an unhealthy posture for long periods of time? After carrying out a risk assessment, be sure to draft and keep a written record of it, and any potential steps you can take to reduce the chance of major accidents.
Deal with Safety Hazards
Logically, the next step after identifying any health and safety risks in the office is to work on mitigating or eliminating them completely. Unless you’re running an industrial business, this shouldn’t be too hard to do. Over 30% of all workplace accidents are slips, trips and falls. While sometimes this isn’t anyone’s fault, a lot of these incidents can easily be prevented by removing common hazards – cables running along the floor, slippery surfaces, poor lighting and so on. Mitigating these kinds of risks is very straightforward, so don’t make excuses! Make sure that any spillages are being mopped up quickly, cables are being taped down, all your lighting is adequate, and that your staff are reporting any potential hazards to one of the higher-ups straight away. One hazard that a lot of employers unfortunately overlook is workstations that encourage an unhealthy posture. You may think that bad backs and stiff necks are just part of working in the office, but if you’re not teaching correct posture and giving your staff adequate workstations, you could have a lawsuit on your hands! Read up on correct desk posture, and look into desks and chairs from companies like Healthy Office World.
In a small start-up office, it’s usually pretty easy to walk around, point out potential dangers, and then do something about them. However, it can also be easy for any business owner to overlook some extremely serious dangers. If you’re spending a lot of time in a separate office, pouring over spreadsheets, emails and reports, you can end up somewhat isolated from the day-to-day experience of your staff. The bulk of your workforce is better acquainted with the safety hazards in your office than anyone else, so make sure you’re getting some input from them. Invite feedback, consult with staff, and encourage everyone to point out any potential dangers.
Check Safety Signage and Information
This is another tip for not only protecting your staff, but making sure that you stay within the law. If an inspector comes in and finds that you don’t have adequate signage, you could quickly find yourself up to your nose in legal troubles. Make sure that any signs relating to health and safety are clearly displayed, for example, directions to fire exits, warnings about where heavy vehicles operate, and providing information about where emergency equipment is kept. This brings me onto my next point…
Keep First-Aid Supplies Accessible
You’re required to have at least one well-stocked first aid box in your business premises, and at least one person appointed to administer first aid, manage your supplies, and make sure everyone’ s up to date with the relevant first aid information. You’re likely to have someone on the workforce who has some kind of first aid training under their belt. If this isn’t the case, then arranging some needs to be pretty near the top of your list. Administering aid to people who are unconscious or bleeding profusely, along with cardiopulmonary resuscitation, should be the bare minimum when it comes to training.
Meet Legal Fire Safety Standards
As a business owner, you are required to execute a regular fire safety risk assessment, keep a fire management plan, and run a drill every few months. While it can be easy to assume that you’re well within the law in this area, it’s extremely common for workplaces to have breaches of fire safety law. Some common examples include fire exits being obstructed or blocked, fire doors being propped open, and staff who aren’t trained in a proper evacuation procedure. This is one of the most serious aspects of workplace safety, so make sure it doesn’t go neglected!
Health and safety may not feel like the most pressing issue for your business at the moment, but it certainly should be! Follow this guide, and you’ll stay safe from workplace injuries and any big legal troubles!