A healthy work environment means a healthy business. Here are the factors worth keeping in mind to ensure this is achieved.
In an unsafe environment, work can be hazardous to your health, or even lethal. Well over half a million people (611,000) across the UK were injured while on the job from 2014 to 2015, according to official figures, and 142 people unfortunately lost their lives.
While shocking, these numbers are around half of what they were just two decades ago. That’s thanks to new rules and regulations concerning workplace safety, and vastly improved working conditions. Employers are legally obliged to provide suitable places of work for the people in them. Let’s take a look at three essential steps to take to ensure your business is compliant with these laws.
1. Your Duty of Care
As an employer, the law says you have a “duty of care” towards those who work on your commercial premises. After all, the very last thing you want is for your valued employees to become injured. Not only will they be unable to work, but they may have grounds to make personal injury claims against the company, too.
At a fundamental level, ensuring the workplace is in an optimal condition and staff won’t be reaching for the nearest No Win No Fee solicitor because of an injury means maintaining the structural integrity of the building itself. All it takes is a loose brick or piece of ceiling plaster to cause harm to staff. Regular maintenance, including of the interior workspaces themselves, is therefore essential.
That also applies to the many types of equipment and machinery that businesses use — everything from photocopiers to forklifts. An electric shock or worse could be devastating to employees, and lead to any number of expensive personal injury claims. So with the premises and what’s inside it, the keyword for health and safety is: maintenance. Holding on to something that’s old in the hopes of getting a few more years out of it, or pushing back on maintenance schedules to cut costs, can often backfire and be exceptionally dangerous.
2. Illuminating Workplace Safety
In order to avoid workplace injury and personal injury claims from staff, it’s important — and also required under law — to provide proper lighting in all areas where people are working. What’s “proper” lighting, then? Not just any old light bulb, but lighting that’s as natural as possible and not so harsh that it causes glare and headaches. The lighting must also be provided in all areas where people move about, or may potentially do so, such as in emergency stairwells. Outside the building must also be adequately lit up for employees and pedestrians passing by.
You won’t be troubled by your employees hunting for a personal injury solicitor to handle a work-related injury if you look after their hygiene needs and general welfare during the hours they’re toiling away for you. Toilet facilities must be kept clean at all times, and have hot and cold running water along with such necessaries as hand-soap and towels.
Staff must also have suitable areas where they can rest and eat, and any catering facilities must adhere to government regulations. Additionally, you may wish to consider pregnant or nursing employees, and provide separate facilities for them.
3. Create a Great Place to Work
Making the place where your staff generate the business that keeps you in business as comfortable as possible will go a long way towards making them happiness and productivity. Attention needs to be paid to such things as temperature inside offices and other places of work — heating as well as cooling — and an adequate supply of ventilation.
Plus, if any of your employees work outdoors in any capacity, you’ll also need to provide adequate cover from high and low temperatures, as well as rain and severe weather.
With all of this, you’ll be well within the health and safety regulations and steer clear of personal injury claims. Even something as seemingly innocuous as an uneven floor or computer cables sticking out is all it takes for someone to fall over and become badly injured.
It all adds up to a win for you, and your valued workers.