Health and safety are one of the most important internal aspects of running a business today. In spite of the new and unique financial pressures being experienced by businesses of every stripe, newer businesses need to focus all the more on their internal structure and approach to safe work – but why?
The Employer’s Responsibilities
Employers in the UK are legally bound to provide safe working environments for their staff, under UK and EU laws and regulations. The leading legislation behind health and safety responsibilities in the UK is the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, though the EU’s OSH framework provides further direction and principles on specific practices involving certain hazards.
In essence, an employer is required to provide a safe working environment through the institution of health and safety procedures and the provision of adequate protective apparatus.
Steps to Take for Good Health and Safety Practice
While certain aspects of workplace health and safety are clearly laid out in legislation and regulation, there are numerous different ways to approach the implementation of health and safety practices. Here are some key methodologies for rolling out an effective and comprehensive health and safety system:
Appoint a Designated Health and Safety Officer
Though not a legal precedent for every business, assigning the role of designated safety officer (DSO) to a volunteer in an organisation can help with the coordination and implementation of health and safety procedures.
Conduct Risk Assessments
Risk assessments are a vital step in identifying the specific risks inherent to a given business or workplace. They are also useful for creating accountability, as individual risk mitigation tasks can be assigned to specific members of staff.
Training is also essential to proper workplace health and safety. Instituting new processes and providing new personal protective equipment is only half of the equation; the other half is ensuring that staff members are equipped with the necessary knowledge to ensure one another’s safety.
Why is it Important to Adopt Good Health and Safety Practice?
The legal responsibilities bestowed upon employers regarding workplace health and safety are well-understood already, but they are not the only impetus for businesses to achieve health and safety compliance. There is a civil angle, for example, wherein poor workplace health and safety can lead to preventable accidents and injury, and costly civil claims in which injured workers seek compensation for them.
There is also, of course, a moral imperative to providing adequate health and safety to staff – which, itself, comes with several benefits to businesses that go above and beyond. In actively investing in proper workplace health and safety, and inequitable training programmes that demonstrably improve the prospects of staff from a safety perspective, a business can profit from increased employee happiness.
This essentially translates to higher productivity and a decrease in staff turnover, allowing a business to flourish all the more in times of economic and employment uncertainty.