There is only one month left of 2018, which means it is nearly time to start reflecting on the achievements your business has made over the last year and what improvements you can implement in 2019.
When it comes to health and safety, there is always room for improvement, as ensuring staff, customers and clients are as safe as possible should be paramount for any business. That’s why even if your company reported few or no accidents over the last 11 months, it is wise to consider ways you could enhance your health and safety strategy.
The scale of work-related illnesses
To truly understand the importance of refining arrangements so that risk of injury and ill health is kept to a minimum, it is wise to learn the true extent of work-related illnesses in the UK.
According to the latest statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), as many as 1.4 million people in Britain suffered from ill health as a result of work in 2017/18. Additionally, there are half a million (555,000) non-fatal injuries in the workplace during the same period that occurred.
Shockingly, 144 people endured fatal injuries, simply because of mistakes made by companies that did not prioritise their emergency preparedness and response strategy or did not regularly update their risk assessments to ensure the premises was safe for those using it.
HSE chair Martin Temple said the figures from the Labour Force Survey “should serve as a reminder to us of the importance to manage risk and undertake good health and safety practice in the work place”.
He went on to say that while the UK has good health and safety strategies in general, “there is still much to be done to ensure that every worker goes home at the end of their working day safe and healthy”.
Cost to businesses
Having a large workforce that is injured or in poor health is obviously not good for any business, particularly ones that rely on skilled workers who are not easily replaceable.
According to HSE statistics, 30.7 million working days were lost during 2017/18 as a result of work-related illnesses and injuries, costing British companies a significant £15 billion a year.
In addition to this, gaining a reputation for having lots of staff in poor health or injured while working for you could also be detrimental to a business as it may discourage some of the most talented employees or big companies from working with you.
Therefore, introducing improvements to your health and safety agenda will not just be a benefit to your staff members, but also to your company’s finances and, possibly, even its future.
New Year’s Resolutions for 2019
As we come to the end of a year, this is an excellent time to look back and see what worked and what did not.
You might not necessarily have to put a halt to any current systems, particularly if they are working well. Instead, it might just be a case of implementing other ones to complement the arrangement you already have.
Here are some suggestions on New Year’s Resolutions you can make with regards to improving your health and safety agenda.
Start as you mean to go on
According to the Safety and Health Magazine, more than half (52 per cent) of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) businesses made a New Year’s Resolution that was related to improving welfare in the workplace last year.
However, while there are no statistics, it would be interesting to find out what proportion of these EHS companies managed to stick to them.
The trick to applying a new health and safety campaign and making it work is to start off small. Instead of launching completely different strategies that staff might find hard to administer or maintain, you need to establish a safety culture over time.
Do not insist on big goals at the beginning, but simply have small objectives that are manageable for everyone to meet – and then continue to raise standards throughout the year, so employees feel a sense of accomplishment by the time 2020 rolls round.
Get everyone involved
To really make new strategies work, you need to involve every member of staff and make sure they are fully on board with the changes.
Explain clearly what these will be by holding meetings and workshops across the company and try to build a culture that keeps a look out for and reports safety blunders, and knows who to inform about them.
It is also a good idea to encourage staff to become more sociable with each other, as this will create a more open atmosphere at work, incite employees to discuss improvements and mistakes, and trust their bosses.
Of course, in order for all staff to get involved in change, it has to start at the top. Executives and directors need to fully understand any alterations in company procedures, and be part of them too.
So, if one of your resolutions is to get workers to wear safety goggles in specific areas, everyone has to do so – including the CEO. If workers see that no-one is above the rules, they are more likely to adopt them too.
What’s more, bosses should be seen to engage with all employees as well. Not only will this boost staff morale, it will engender a feeling of loyalty and protectionism for the company, so workers look out for each other and would not want to see anyone harmed or falling ill.
While it is essential for a strategy to be in place for risks that could occur daily, it is also worthwhile implementing an emergency preparedness procedure as well.
There are several catastrophic problems that could happen, depending on the industry of your business, and while no-one likes to think about them, it is important as a boss, you do.
By setting out a plan on what should take place in an emergency and then letting staff members know about the policy, you will reduce the chance of serious injuries taking place.
It is important that everyone is fully involved with the procedure, so hold workshops or even an emergency planning training day to make sure all staff know what they should do if the worst happens.
In addition to training employees about emergencies, it is a good idea to send them on regular health and safety courses, especially if it has been a while since their last one.
Procedures are updated all the time, so it is wise for workers to be kept in the loop about changes. What’s more, the more frequently they attend these courses, the more knowledgeable they will be about maintaining health and safety standards at work.
Update Workplace Violence & Harassment Policy
It is not just injuries company bosses should be worried about, but also cases of violence and harassment that take place at work.
Make sure all staff know you not tolerate any sexual, racial, gender or homophobic harassment in the slight, and give out the latest copy of your Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy to each staff member.
It might even be the case that you have to update this to really crack down on bad behaviour and make sure your policy meets current legislation.
More and more employees are becoming victims of poor mental health due to work problems, with the Trades Union Congress revealing HSE figures that 15.4 million working days were lost due to work-related stress in 2017/18.
This is a massive increase of three million from the previous year, showing that the problem is getting worse, not better.
One way to reduce this and support employees is to have a strong and effective policy that clearly stipulates what is appropriate behaviour in the workplace – and have repercussions for those who do not abide by this.