Chris Pendrey: How to increase employees’ health and safety awareness

Chris Pendrey

According to the Health and Safety Executive’s Health and safety statistics, published in November 2017, UK organisations lost over 31 million working days to workplace injuries alone in 2016-2017. The benefits, therefore, of defining an adherable health and safety plan are clear; greater productivity, reduced absenteeism and potentially lower costs for injury compensation.

The first step in creating a health and safety plan is to conduct a thorough workplace risk assessment, logging every safety risk, along with the degree of threat they pose to employees. Employers should also consider how these risks can be eliminated or reduced by putting control measures in place.

Organisations must keep accurate records of all historical safety incidents and clearly outline their health and safety procedures. This way, if there are personnel changes, new employees can grasp best practice simply by reading the records. Plus, if a future incident were to occur, the business can show the steps it took to avoid injury as much as possible.

The best way to prevent injury is to maintain an organised workplace. The most common employee injuries, according to small business information website, include tripping over or being hit by falling objects. These types of incidents can be easily avoided by keeping all equipment safely stored away. It is also important to report any near misses, so as to prevent injury in the future.

Employers can encourage employees to buy into the organisation’s health and safety policy by making it as easy as possible to understand. Label the office with relevant safety advice, like warnings of sharp objects or low ceilings, as a gentle reminder of best practice.

Engaging busy employees with health and safety is not easy, so the best tactic is to offer training which appeals to how employees prefer to learn. Hands-on learners may benefit from an on-site training session, while others may prefer independent learning through online health and safety courses.

Employers should find out what works for employees by asking their thoughts on training methods, and cater to their preferences. This might involve creating an online forum where employees can read notices and guidelines, or if the business uses an online chat tool, pinning health and safety messages in a dedicated chat for easy access.

Chris Pendrey is safety, health, environment and quality manager, structural division at scaffolding and builders’ equipment retail organisation Actavo Direct