Shaun Higgins, Managing Director of IML Labels and Systems, discusses the Health and Safety at Work Act, and looks at the responsibility of employers to ensure the workplace is a healthy and safe place for employees, as well as touching upon the part that workers must play too.
To begin with, it is important to mention that under the Health and Safety at Work Act, workers have a duty to ensure that they undertake all work in a safe manner, also taking into account the safety of everyone else around them.
The construction industry has been under fire in recent years when it comes to health and safety. In 2016, UK companies paid over £61 million in health and safety fines, with construction the hardest industry hit, forking out a bill of £13.5 million.
According to a nationwide poll, over half of property and construction workers worryingly revealed they don’t know the basic health and safety rules of their own workplace, and 72% don’t fully adhere to health and safety practices.
Since 2001, tragically 760 injuries in the construction industry were fatal, so there’s a lot that can be done to educate and improve health and safety standards. Here are five tips to help you do just that.
Workers should always wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) when they’re on-site. If you’ve noticed that employees aren’t wearing what they should be, then it’s time to lead by example, if you’re not already, and educate them.
Ensure all employees know that at a bare minimum, they should be wearing hard hats, safety boots and high visibility clothing at all times on the building site.
Additional equipment will also need to be worn, depending on the type of work being undertaken. This includes noise cancellation ear-muffs, safety goggles, high-grip gloves and respiratory masks.
PPE is designed to help keep workers safe when carrying out work. If they’re not properly kitted out, then they’ll need to be reminded of this.
By labelling your products, you can easily display all important information, which will be seen by everyone from the start of the production plan through to the point of delivery.
Enabling workers to easily see the purpose of products and any potential hazards they may represent will allow them to treat them in the correct way, helping to avoid any accidents or injuries.
Just make sure that the labels you use are strong enough to withstand the wear-and-tear of transportation and weather conditions, otherwise there’s no point in actually using them! There are several types of labels available: whether you need ones that can withstand high temperatures, or won’t tear off easily.
This point may seem like a strange one, but as we’re all aware, hunger can really affect us. Reducing concentration levels, this makes problem-solving more difficult, and can make us snappier.
None of these traits are ideal when working in construction… operating machinery when you’re not focusing properly is not a good combination!
Avoid potential accidents by ensuring you and your colleagues are eating properly – taking a lunch break and having snacks to hand will help keep your concentration levels up, enabling you to work in the safest way possible.
Like the Health and Safety Act states, employees are responsible for keeping the workplace safe too, and one of the ways they can do this is by reporting any issues (or potential issues), as soon as they arise.
Speak with employees and set out guidelines so that they understand the onus is on them as individuals to report something if they see it.
As an employer, you’re expected to carry out risk assessments. HSE advises that these should be conducted before you do any work which could present a risk of injury or ill health.
Additionally, if you employ more than five people, then you’re legally required to implement a health and safety policy. Whilst the law doesn’t expect you to remove all risks, it does expect you to put measures into place that will help to protect your workers.
Ensure employees are fully trained and qualified to use machinery correctly, and help keep the workplace safe. One good way to get important information across is through demonstrations, as you can get employees involved.
You should also make a note of when any qualifications expire so that you and your employees can renew these on time.
It would be useful to have all training – whether on machinery or health and safety in general – on-hand through leaflets or manuals. That way, employees can read up on policies in their own time, and refer to them if they have any questions.
Once you’ve implemented a health and safety policy as noted above, it’s important to educate employees on this. Keep an accident record book that employees can use to log any work-related accidents.
You’ll also need to have a first aid box handy, as well as a dedicated first aider – their name and location should be visible to everyone. The first aid box must have enough equipment for everyone working at your company, and include sterile plasters, bandages, sterile wound dressings, sterile eye pads and disposable gloves, in addition to a leaflet providing first aid advice.
The construction industry has many potential hazards, which is why it’s important to have rules and procedures in place. Making employees aware of them will help everyone to stay safe, avoiding potential injuries or accidents.
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