Common health and safety hazards for UK businesses
There are a variety of ways that your employees could suffer workplace injuries, from using dangerous equipment without adequate training to slipping on an icy pathway.
Regardless of the circumstances, if a worker is injured due to an avoidable health and safety issue, the company, it’s owner or senior managers of the business could be found liable; and a costly health and safety investigation could place the entire future of the company at risk.
This is why it is so important to carry out regular risk assessments and identify any health and safety hazards.
At Moore Blatch Solicitors, we have worked with a large number of businesses over many years which have required health and safety law advice and representation in the wake of an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), or even the police force. Throughout that time, we have worked on cases involving a broad spectrum of health and safety issues.
While some hazards are more common than others, any number of issues could impact your business and place your employees at risk. Fortunately, many health and safety hazards can be dealt with internally once they have been identified.
Common health and safety hazards
Slips, trips and falls
One of the most common causes of workplace injuries are simple slips, trips and falls. Ironically, these incidents are also amongst the most avoidable.
Slips, trips and falls are caused by wet floors, frozen pathways, poorly maintained surfaces, untidy work areas and inadequate footwear. Most of these issues can be corrected quickly if management is vigilant and quick to act.
Spillages and mess should be dealt with early and appropriate signage should be used to safeguard the area in the interim. Poorly maintained flooring should also be improved, whether by replacing floors or installing mats.
Electrical equipment and electricity
Another common cause of injuries at work is faulty electrical equipment. Again, this is an avoidable issue.
By law, small business owners have a duty to ensure that electrical equipment is well maintained. If they fail to meet this requirement, they can place employees in serious danger.
Electrical equipment should be checked and approved by persons with adequate training. How often does electrical equipment need to be checked and undergo maintenance? That all depends on the nature of the equipment, the location it is used in and the results of any previous checks. Testing by external contractors is relatively inexpensive and can save money in the long run.
They are electrical equipment but computers can pose health and safety risks beyond electricity. Health and safety law dictates that employees who work in front of computer screens should be given rest breaks and other activities which take them away from their screens.
Staff must also be provided with the opportunity to leave their desks and vary their posture, since sedentary roles can be harmful to health over long periods of time.
While many businesses owners might not think of it as a physical hazard in the workplace, the HSE has explained that more than a million British workers are exposed to dangerous levels of noise at work every year.
By law, employers must ensure, and be able to prove, that they have assessed noise levels in their workplace and also taken steps to safeguard their employees’ hearing health such as providing ear defenders etc.
Common health and safety methods
Now that you’re aware of some of the most common causes of workplace injury, we can think about how to safeguard against them.
Spreading the word
Perhaps, the most obvious way to ensure that your workplace complies with health and safety law is to make sure all employees are aware of the rules.
Adequate safety training for all staff will ensure that health and safety hazards are reduced. It could also boost performance and productivity.
According to the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, employers have an obligation to provide adequate first aid training to employees, along with first aid equipment.
The nature of first aid training and equipment will, of course, depend on the nature of the workplace and the industry, although the majority of working environments will require a well stocked first aid box at the very least.
Our health and safety law experts recommend carrying out regular first aid checks to assess the level of first aid compliance already in place and to examine the need for further first aid.
It is important to have the right number of first aid trained employees available in house and it is just as important to ensure that items in the first aid box are replaced once they are taken out to be used. This might sounds simple, but it is one of the most important aspects of workplace first aid.
Call us for more advice on health and safety law today
Sometimes accidents happen, and it pays to have experienced health and safety solicitors on your side if you, or your business, are under suspicion. Call Moore Blatch Solicitors on 0800 157 7611 for the legal advice and practical support you need.