H & S: Protecting your employees and your business
Nowadays health and safety laws dictate that employers must ensure that their businesses are compliant and their work-force is protected from injuries, as well as protecting themselves in the event of an accident.
However, some business-owners are unsure as to what being compliant actually means, so here are some tips on what employers can do to stay safe and to keep their employees safe.
Enforcing a serious health and safety policy
The first thing is to establish and enforce a serious Health and Safety policy which explains how you will go about protecting staff and putting in place guidelines to prevent accidents.
It can be simple and to the point, and it doesn't even have to be in print should you employ fewer than five people, but the staff need to know that such a policy exists for their benefit.
Secondly, it is strongly advised that you appoint an experienced and knowledgeable official with some expertise and health and safety skills to oversee this area of the business. This role could be in-house in a smaller business which possesses fewer potential hazards, but in larger and potentially more dangerous work environments, it is highly recommended to bring in an outside party for this task.
Another crucial aspect of this is undertaking a ‘risk assessment’. This will help to identify anything and everything which, even unintentionally, has the chance to cause harm to an employee, whilst suggesting steps to tackle any potential issues.
It will also identify measures an employer can take to provide further protection for employees and record those of the greatest importance or those with the highest chance of causing harm.
It also helps to actually speak to employees. Keep them in the loop and get their thoughts, also allow them to share their concerns of any possible risks and hazards.
After all, especially in larger work environments, it's the staff who will be interacting in these areas and coming into closer contact with any potential danger zones.
Communication with employees as often as possible will help to reassure them that their health and safety is a priority and that the business will always be doing what it can to help them.
Suitable training and protective equipment for all the tasks employees will be undertaking is essential to protect them from dangers. All equipment should be in excellent condition, be well looked after and have suitable protection such as earplugs and goggles to help staff wherever possible.
Finally, although these steps will help to prevent accidents, it is definitely still worth researching what to do in the event that a work-place accident does occur. It's all well and good saying "this won't happen", but what if it does?
In many cases employees who suffer serious injuries, or even mild injuries will look to seek financial compensation. It's a misconception that this is merely a lump sum due to an employee having an accident at work. There's more to it than that.
According to injury at work specialist, Mark Hunter, from Liverpool based personal injury solicitors, Mackrell & Thomas Solicitors, there are things like loss of earnings, distress and psychological trauma, reduced mobility, out of pocket expenses (like hospital trips), treatment costs, emotional support and physical rehabilitation.
“Sadly, most accident at work claims happen due to the neglect of an employer. So, when it comes to health and safety in the work-place, keeping the work-environment safe, looking after employees and identifying and remedying any potential hazards are all essential to avoid personal injury claims.
“But bear in mind that even in the most well-protected, well-structured work environments where health and safety and staff protection is very important, accidents will still happen.”
Work related accidents are still all too common
According to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive, 144 people were tragically killed due to workplace accidents in 2015/16 and 72,702 workplace injuries were reported.
As the statistics demonstrate, work related accidents are common, all too common in fact, and it is understandable that an employee who has been the victim of a workplace accident, especially if suffering serious injuries due to negligence or poor equipment, will seek compensation for an accident at work.
It is therefore paramount that employers should take health and safety extremely seriously, not only to look after their employees but also to cover and protect their business, or their livelihood.