6 Steps to Fostering Health & Safety In Your Business
For employers, the most important reason for stringent workplace health and safety procedures and processes is to prevent loss of life or dangerous accidents. Safe Work Australia has reported that as of 6 October 2022, 120 Australian workers have been killed at work. The responsibility of employers to ensure all staff have the opportunity to perform their duties in a safe environment and return home from work healthy cannot be underestimated and is pivotal to strong leadership.
As well as duty of care, there are other practical business reasons that workplace safety should be a top-level priority in businesses of all sizes and industries. Safe Work Australia estimates that work-related injury and disease costs the Australian economy $61.8 billion a year*. From expected economic costs such as WorkCover, legal fees or medical expenses to less discussed but related costs including loss of time and productivity, equipment repairs, decreased employee morale and an increase in absenteeism. Not having a thorough health and safety procedure in place can negatively affect your employees’ wellbeing and the company's bottom line.
How to foster a culture of health and safety in your business:
1. Carry out an inspection and risk assessment.
Before completing your safety plan it’s vital to have an understanding of the risks in the workplace, a thorough inspection of the work areas including emergency exits, break rooms and office areas should be carried out. It may be helpful to consult a specialist who can visit the space and provide you with a detailed report on any hazards and risks assessed. Hazards can be a range of things such as cleaning products the maintenance staff use, lifting heavy boxes or the use of large machinery. Understanding how things could go wrong and putting processes in place to protect workers will make the work environment safer.
2. Planning, Processes and Procedures
After the inspection has been carried out you should create a thorough health and safety plan that is specific to your organisation, employees and work processes. From the risk assessment carried out you will understand where safety measures will need to be in place and outline ways to monitor it. The first priority will be reducing the risk of all identified hazards and then ensuring safety steps are in place to mitigate any potential injuries or accidents. Things to think about are; where the nearest first aid kit is at all times, how can employees ring the alarm in case of emergency and what are the emergency evacuation procedures. Ensure all management and employees are familiar with the plan and can access it for future reference.
Understanding who is responsible for the health and safety procedures in the workplace will ensure incidents can be followed up and tracked. Management may decide to hire an individual or include it in the role of a current employee, whoever is responsible for the health and safety in the organisation should have comprehensive training and education and be compliant with all regulations and guidelines. Ensure staff are aware of who is responsible should they need to discuss any health and safety-related issues.
4. Staff Awareness & Education
Ensuring all employees of the organisation are aware of emergency procedures and processes should be of utmost importance. This would include regular education sessions such as manual handling, chemical training or scheduled emergency drills. Staff should have the information and knowledge to be able to react quickly and safely in the event of an incident. It is also important to ensure all employees are educated on any machinery or hazardous equipment, continue to supervise and monitor staff safety and provide regular opportunities to revisit their training. Not providing employees with opportunities for relevant training could put them in danger and you may also be held liable for any incidents that occur.
5. Label & Sign
Mislabelled chemicals or equipment could have deadly potential for employees or visitors so ensuring you accurately identify potential hazards needs to be a high priority for businesses. With Avery Industrial Range, management and employees can react quickly to common workplace hazards such as spills or broken equipment by instantly printing out industrial grade, durable, labels on-site.
6. Investigate Accidents & Maintain Records
Ensure you investigate all accidents regardless of whether it results in a serious injury or not. Following up with the set process each time an incident occurs will allow you to understand why it happened and how it could be prevented in the future. Following up on all incidents will also ensure you are able to track and become aware of any potential trends in unsafe conditions. Maintain all records of incidents and accidents for easy reference, training and education in the future. Maintaining records will also be important should a serious incident occur to understand if or how the business could have prevented it.