There were 693,000 non-fatal injuries reported in 2019/2020. Does your business know how to prevent an accident at work?

Accidents at work may be more prevalent in some industries than others. There is, however, no room for complacency in any industry. With that in mind, Peter Watson, Health and Safety specialists from Watson and Watson Health and Safety Consultants shares his advice on preventing accidents at work.

Undertake regular risk assessments

Risk assessments are not “set and forget” activities. All workplaces will change over time. You may be able to track some changes and predict others. There is, however, only one way to ensure that you’re always on top of risks and that is to undertake regular risk assessments.

Risk assessments are vital, which may seem pretty obvious but when the highest cause of non-fatal accidents still remains to be slips, trips and falls you would think that assessing possible risks would be at the top of many industries lists.

Make sure employees have all necessary training

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that all employees have the necessary training to work healthily and safely. There are basically two ways you can make this happen. You can either make a policy of only hiring employees who can demonstrate that they’ve had the training or you can arrange for the training to be delivered.

If you’re in a business where you expect employees to stay with you for extended periods, then you’re probably going to need to implement a system for ensuring that training is periodically refreshed. This is often a requirement for keeping it valid. Even when it’s not, it’s still good practice.

Cultivate a health and safety culture

Make sure that senior managers are leading by example and encouraging their direct reports to do the same. Lower-level employees will notice if their seniors are really practising what they preach. If they are, they will be more motivated to follow suit. If not, then they may, understandably, see no reason to care themselves.

Ideally, you want to “gamify” the concept of health and safety so workers see it as something fun, or at least interesting. One way to get people motivated to learn about health and safety is to run regular competitions on the topic. The prizes can be small; you just need to get people’s attention.

Encourage self-care

The term “self-care” may conjure up images of knowledge workers dealing with stress, RSI and screen glare. This is all true, but it actually has much broader implications.

For example, workers in manual jobs should be actively encouraged to take appropriate breaks. These are essential for recharging mentally and physically and thus help to prevent accidents.

Make a point of asking employees of all levels for their input on workplace accident prevention. This is generally the best way to uncover situations where solutions which look good to management do not look so good to the lower-level employees who have to implement them.

Remember that external factors can lead to workplace accidents

An issue may not be your fault, but if it occurs in your workplace, it’s still your responsibility to deal with it. For example, if an employee is involved in an incident outside work, but only starts to feel the effects once at work, you still have to take care of them.

This means that you need to be prepared to deal with situations that would probably never occur as a result of workplace activities.

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