In 2016-17, the HSE had a 93 per cent conviction rate, with the average penalty costing organisations £126,000. Are your health and safety policies sufficient enough to avoid such a staggering fine? Worse than that, an unsafe working environment can result in injuries to your staff. And, in about 140 cases a year in the UK, workplace injuries can even be fatal. Do you have the proper safeguards in place? If you’re unable to arrive at a satisfactory answer, you may need to review your policies. Even though such a task may seem too large and intimidating to properly address, it can be made more manageable with the following strategies:
- Assess your risks. Undertake a formal risk assessment of your organisation at least once per year. These assessments should examine tasks, equipment, methods and work environments to identify potential risks. Be sure to keep a written copy if you have at least five employees.
- Discuss health and safety issues with your employees. One of the most effective ways to promote a healthy working environment is to conduct company safety meetings. These informal, brief meetings allow you the opportunity to stay up to date on potential workplace hazards and safe workplace practices, such as machinery use, tool handling and equipment use. .Some of the best safety ideas come from your employees because they know what and where the dangers are.
- Consult health and safety specialists. For certain situations or equipment, your organisation should contact a certified specialist to conduct an inspection. Ideally, these inspections should be conducted at least annually.
- Review and revise your inspection programme. Your organisation’s risk management and inspection programmes should be reviewed annually, or after any health and safety incidents have occurred.
- Safety training. Above all, it’s important to take safety training seriously. Together with the help of your peers, employers can use safety meetings, training and hazard identification practices to ensure workplace health and safety.
- Designate a Health and Safety person. Appoint a qualified individual to oversee and manage policies, procedures and ongoing safety training and competence within the workforce.
- Have a written, enforceable policy. Every company should have a written safety policy distributed to all employees. Many companies even have employees sign a document to confirm they’ve read the policy as evidence they have met this specific legal requirement. Such documentary evidence of complying with health and safety requirements is necessary in the event of any criminal or civil litigation that may arise, e.g. following an accident or an enforcement officer visiting the premises.