For U.K. based companies, establishing best practice for health and safety in the workplace is an important initiative, and arguably as important as managing the business finances. Poor working practice is not only a drain upon efficiency but also a hidden drain on your costs.
According to self-reports submitted to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), more than 620,000 U.K. workers sustained non-fatal injuries while at work from 2015-16.
The main causes of these injuries? Preventable workplace accidents. For the most part, they occurred while handling or carrying items (20%), falling or tripping (19%) or coming into contact with another object (10%).
Today, we’re talking about how companies can get on the right track toward establishing a safer and more secure workplace.
By making safety procedures known at the onset, employers can help ensure their teams are as protected as possible.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
1. Identify Notable Hazards
While establishing safety procedures is a must, it’s often easier said than done.
There are many operations occurring at the same time, across departments. As such, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where an accident might occur.
To this end, it can be helpful to isolate major tasks and examine them via a Job Hazard Analysis.
Also known as a Job Safety Analysis, this process includes reviewing each task for areas subject to safety concerns. Often, an employee will perform every step of the task from beginning to completion, while a reviewer will take notes.
Priority should be given to those tasks that carry the highest risk of injury or illness.
The goal of this analysis is to isolate specific areas where jobs could place workers in peril. Then, companies can create safety procedures that seek to address and mitigate them.
To ensure that no issue is missed, many companies find it helpful to hire an external consultancy to perform a safety audit for this step. This professional service can prove invaluable in identifying and prioritising safety concerns and breach of legal compliance, the consequences of which can be very expensive. A safety audit will provide you with a road allocate your valuable resources (time, trouble and money) to the areas where it is most needed to protect your business and your people.
2. Collect Relevant Safety Data
After you’ve identified which areas in your workplace are the most hazardous, the next step is to determine exactly how to improve them.
Having solid preventative strategies in place is vital. This helps workers understand how to perform each task.
Your specific strategies will differ depending on your various tasks and your environment. Yet, there are a few key insights that almost every company will need to search for. These include:
- The cause behind the hazard itself. What is making this step particularly dangerous?
- Legal requirements and industry / HSE guidance. Are there any regulatory measures that will determine how this task should be performed?
- Workplace environment. Are there any in-house operations currently in place that will affect our teams’ ability to successfully –and safely — perform this task?
The answers to some of these questions will come from an internal analysis of your company itself. You may also find guidance by browsing the regulatory data provided by the HSE.
Yet, many seek the support of an outside resource, such as a safety advisor. This service can help them more clearly and thoroughly assess the safety situations at hand.
3. Record the Safety Procedures
You’ve identified where your workplace needs safety guidance, and have researched what that should be. Now, you’ll be ready to start the process of recording your company’s safety procedures.
During this step, it’s critical to include your employees. Doing so will open your safety team up to new perspectives, allowing them to understand if the policy is workable and to what extent.
The workers will be the ones responsible for implementing the procedures. So, it’s essential to get their feedback and opinions and to factor them into the program itself.
Once all teams have met and offered their comments, the safety procedures can be drafted up.
Individual plans will undoubtedly vary. Yet, each procedure should include the following information in some capacity:
- The reason behind the procedure
- Any legal standards or regulatory compliance measures to be met by the procedure
- Specific steps that should be followed to meet the safety objectives
- User-specific roles and duties, if applicable
- Actions to be taken if the safety procedures are not followed to their full extent
Your safety team, supervisors, consultancy, or other similar committees should review the procedures. Then, they can distribute the documentation to your teams.
4. Put the Procedures into Practice
Safety procedures can be used to serve myriad purposes within your workplace.
They can be distributed to new employees as part of orientation training.
They can be published and bound into a manual to be kept in a public area as a reference for all employees across departments. They can also serve as a written record to be examined in the event of a safety investigation.
The method through which your company opts to distribute the data to your teams will be determined by your executive team.
Some companies opt to laminate posters that cover the highlights of the procedures and post them in a public area, such as the company kitchen. Others choose to create pocket cards that employees can carry with them, both in the field and in the office.
For especially complex or difficult-to-understand processes, or where you have a cosmopolitan workforce, it can be helpful to include graphics. These are commonly flow charts or pictures, used to help employees better visualise the procedure itself.
These charts can fit into the written procedure itself or can be enlarged. If they’re enlarged, it’s common to post them in an area where the process is relevant, such as in a warehouse.
Any written procedures should be short and concise. Why? Because they are more likely to be read, used and remembered.
5. Analyse the Effectiveness of the Procedures
The final step in developing effective safety procedures at work is to set actionable goals and objectives. These are metrics used to measure their effectiveness.
Periodic reviews can help your safety team analyse current safety statistics against prior ones. This can help ensure that progress is being made.
This time of reflection can also prove valuable by allowing your company to review the relevancy of each procedure. Is it still applicable to your company? Does it need to be tweaked to keep pace with operational changes?
Here, you can identify employees that need extra guidance to understand the procedures. You’ll also be able to reward those making significant strides when it comes to the safety they secure for themselves and others.
Peace of Mind: Your Health and Safety Consultancy Resource
Are you looking for a UK-based resource to help your company create and put in place policies and procedures around workplace health and safety?
If so, we’d love to help.
We are occupational health, safety, and environmental management specialists. We’re dedicated to helping our clients keep their environments as hazard-free as possible, and specialise in many industry sectors, including Transport, Healthcare, Social Housing, Commercial and Industrial businesses
Contact us today to get started and let’s take that first step together!