Meeting requirements for Health and Safety has the ultimate goal of protecting your employees from harm. You would not want a workplace accident on your conscience; or to feel responsible for long-term effects from work on someone’s health.
Further to this, having staff trained in Health and Safety can mean reduced insurance premiums, enhanced reputation, increased production, reduced absenteeism, and helps protect you against legal costs – or even prison!
Within the company, the role of managing health and safety usually falls to a manager or supervisor. It is vital that they undertake training in Health and Safety law and practices in order to fulfil this role and protect the rest of the staff.
5 REASONS TO CONDUCT HEALTH AND SAFETY TRAINING:
1. Reduced Insurance Premiums
Proving that you have leaders who are trained in Health and Safety issues can reduce your insurance premiums because, of course, it means you are less likely to make a claim. Not only that, but the actions taken to prevent injury or illness will mean those premiums stay low because no claims are made.
2. Enhanced Reputation
Your employees are your best asset and advocate, by providing an environment that is safe, secure and where your staff feel they are being looked after they are likely to sing your praises. Also if you provide the working environment where nobody is an advocate, typically the views from your staff can have a negative effect on your reputation.
3. Increased Productivity
A staff member who experiences health or safety issues as a result of your working environment, they may not always have the confidence or awareness to raise it as an issue. Instead, they may suffer in silence and work slower than usual, with more unofficial breaks to manage the pain.
A thorough health and safety audit by a trained manager will check for this sort of occurrence. Once identified, action will be taken to ensure this person is protected from this kind of injury and that they have the resources to be as productive as possible.
4. Reduced Absence
A manager who is trained in Health and Safety practices will be in a position to reduce illness and absence. For example, knowledge of allowed working temperatures and required washing facilities could prevent viruses spreading and causing sick leave.
5. Legal Protection Against Damages
With or without a formal policy (which is a legal requirement of anywhere that employs more than five people), all companies must take reasonable steps to protect the health of their staff.
A business owner who is proven to have been negligent in protecting their staff against accident or illness can be held personally responsible; fine and even imprisoned.Health and Safety training will ensure that any minor incidents are documented and investigated, thus reducing the chance of injury and subsequent claims.
Workplace accident insurance will cover some types of claim in some circumstances but, even with insurance, you will always need to prove that reasonable preventative steps were taken. Insurance payouts don’t cover all costs involved in accidents, e.g. equipment repairs or to cover lost profits.
The cost and time spent on Health and Safety training and measures are tiny when compared to the potential damages from workplace accident or work-related ill health.
DO YOUR EMPLOYEES MOVE HEAVY OBJECTS?
Most of the time, you and your staff won’t even think about it, lifting things are just part of our normal day, but many manual handling injuries are the result of poor lifting techniques.
In some cases, poor manual handling can lead to permanent disability and physical impairment.
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 apply to all manual handling activities carried out by employees whilst at work. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to undertake a risk assessment of all manual handling activities and determine a hierarchy of risk control in order to minimize injury and ill-health risks to your staff. Below are our top tips for ensuring safety at your business.
Why is manual handling an issue under health & safety law?
Manual handling is not only about lifting but also lowering items, pushing items, pulling items, carrying items and repeated movement of items.
Note: Back injury is not the only type of injury from manual handling. Injuries are reported concerning:
Clearly costs to business due to injury are huge, comprising pay, the cost of loss of skilled employees, replacement/temporary staff, civil claims, criminal prosecution and increased insurance premiums.
Figures from the HSE report that musculo-skeletal disorder cases in 2011/12 represented 439,000 out of a total 1,073,000 reported work-related illnesses.
What does the law require regarding manual handling?
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 require employers to:
- Avoid… the need for hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable.
- Assess… the risk of injury from any hazardous manual handling that can’t be avoided
- Reduce… the risk of injury from hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable.
What are the rules for good manual handling?
Remember the following for safe manual handling:
- Lift only within your capability
- Two people are better than one
- Frequent lifting of smaller weights is better than a one-off lift of a heavy load
- Bend your knees and keep your back straight
- Use your thighs
- Get a good grip
- Hold the heaviest part of the load closest to the body
- Rest the load mid-way if possible
Review all manual handling tasks and mechanise whatever you can and…
- Avoid manual handling tasks wherever possible
- Remember that manual handling covers pushing and pulling as well as lifting
- Remember there is no legal maximum weight that people can lift – it depends on their capability
- Complete Risk Assessments for all manual handling tasks. Remember to consider:
- The task
- The environment
- The load
- The individual
- Share information with employees and others – put weight loads on boxes and packages
- Train employees in good manual handling practices
- Team lifting is an acceptable way of organising lifting but it does need to have proper planning
- Where mechanical aids are used ensure that they are regularly maintained and serviced and have any statutory inspections e.g. for lifting aids/hoists.
Since 1974, the year in which the UK’s Health and Safety at Work Act came into effect, businesses have been increasingly under pressure to make legally-required changes to their training, equipment and processes.
Whilst many see this as a good thing especially from the point of view of employees, it does represent new and additional costs to the management and running of a business.
Putting this in the context of the current economic climate business owners may see training costs as a burden when cost-cutting is a key priority for many businesses across the country.
Whilst staff training does indeed represent a cost, it’s surprisingly straightforward to see the benefits training can bring to your business. Here are four examples.
1. Improved morale
The effect of training on staff morale is unsurprisingly positive. Improving somebody’s skillset doesn’t just enable them to be better employees but sometimes has an impact outside the workplace. Take for example the provision of a first aid course which can be equally useful to somebody outside the workplace.
2. Increased productivity
Staff who are (or feel) more capable of performing their role are often able to do so with a higher level of productivity. Further to this, with training comes confidence which can have a strong impact on a person’s decision making abilities. This allows them to work without constant input from others. Multiply this effect across the workforce and the outcome is a more efficient and well-oiled team.
Staff turnover is a direct source of expense and one worth reducing as much as possible. Providing training is an effective method of showing your commitment to staff and in return there’s a greater chance of building a loyal workforce.
4. Incident-related cost reduction
Health and safety courses aim to reduce the number of incidents in the workplace which is of course positive. But behind every incident is a cost whether it be the cost of hiring temporary workers to cover sick leave or to replace damaged equipment. Well-delivered training is therefore a means of reducing costs
It’s very easy to believe that workplace safety regulations are restrictive and time-consuming and could possibly lower productivity in the workplace. It’s equally straightforward to
assume that having to follow a precise procedure, or filling in a risk assessment form before
completing a task, might slow things down. But in actual fact, if you look at the bigger
picture, it becomes clear that the opposite is in fact true.
For example, an office employee wants to move a large stand-alone photocopier to the
other side of the room. According to procedure, he should call the maintenance department
and have them move it, but he thinks it’s quicker just to unplug it and move it himself. He
unplugs the photocopier and eases it across the floor, but it’s heavier than he thought, and
he hurts his back manoeuvring it. He eventually gets it across the room, but when he plugs it
in, there’s a problem and it doesn’t work. Now his back hurts; he needs medical attention
and may be off work for a few days, or quite possibly even longer. Meanwhile his work
colleagues are left without a working photocopier simply because he didn’t follow the
correct procedure. Even though it was a very simple scenario and in many other cases
everything would have been fine, in this particular instance it would have been more
productive to have the maintenance department move it for him.
In many workplaces, there is a requirement to wear personal protective equipment before
using certain equipment. You may have to perform preparatory tasks that seem unnecessary
or overly cautious – but workplace safety regulations are put in place to reduce risk. Often
the procedure for a particular task has been put in place by a person or team who have
looked at the possible risks as well as the time it takes. They will have put together a
procedure that makes the task as safe as possible, but also moves as quickly as possible. By
following the correct procedure, we often find that although we think it would be quicker to
do away with the health and safety aspect, actually by following a set order each time, we
can be more productive – as well as avoiding time taken to deal with unnecessary injuries if
procedures are not followed correctly.
How does PAT testing reduce risks for a business?
Businesses are required by law to provide a safe working environment, suitable tools and training. Although PAT testing is not a legal requirement it is the best way to ensure that the legal requirements are met regarding portable appliances in the workplace. Various appliances require testing including a broad spectrum of essential office equipment from computers and photocopiers to appliances provided for the personal use of employees including microwaves and stereos. If the business is in a manufacturing industry an even wider range of equipment must be tested including electrical tools like drills, sanders and saws. There is even a requirement to test appliances that are considered to be a permanent part of the workplace i.e. cannot be moved to another location. This could be air-conditioning units and refrigerators etc.
There are no set requirements for frequency of PAT testing other than that it should be carried out regularly suitable intervals, however it is in a business’s best interests to ensure that equipment that is used most regularly undergoes more frequent testing than equipment that is rarely in use. Hand held and class one appliances should also be subject to more frequent testing as these categories are most likely to suffer more damage. Recommendations vary for different classes of equipment and in different environments. For example construction industry equipment should be tested more frequently than office equipment.
PAT testing is important for maintaining health and safety in the workplace. Employers have a duty of care to their workers to ensure that they are safe while at work and do not suffer any accident or injury due to poorly maintained equipment. Figures show that 30 people annually die as a result of electricity related accidents as well as many more suffering from serious injuries. PAT testing helps to prevent these situations occurring and save lives. With portable devices being identified as the cause of around a quarter of all workplace incidents PAT testing is extremely important. Undergoing these tests ensure that the business meets the ISO9000/1 and BS5750 regulations and also meet the criteria for most business insurances.
Businesses that carry out regular PAT testing are helping to protect themselves against any legal action from employees who may find themselves injured by electrical equipment at work. Companies that can show a PAT certificate to show they have performed the required tests on their equipment are far greater protected.