Health and Safety – Why Risk It?

Risk assessments are key to any commercial environment, as they help to reduce the risk of a dangerous event occurring, increasing staff and public safety. Risk assessments should be updated if necessary on a weekly basis. Every employee within a business can carry out a risk assessment, if they spot a potential hazard. Below are three areas that will be covered within this article:

1) The importance of risk assessments.
2) CoSHH Risk Assess.
3) Fire Safety and Fire Assessments.

To help protect the safety of people within your business, risk assessments must be completed regularly. Companies and businesses who fail to complete risk assessments, will be breaching the health and safety at work act. The law knows that you can’t simply prevent every risk, but you can help to reduce risks. However businesses have a duty of care to look after employees and others who may enter the workplace.

Assessments help you to uncover potential risks, that may cause harm if not dealt with correctly. An environment which has hazardous chemicals, fire risks, areas which could cause a trip or fall are all examples of hazards. By completing risk assessments you are helping to protect your employees and your business to. Many business reputations have been destroyed, from a failure to carry out procedures and policies correctly.

Any business dealing with chemicals must complete a COSHH risk assessment and a COSHH sheet for each chemical. All chemical must be labeled correctly. Labeling must state whether the chemical is corrosive, irritant, flammable etc. All chemicals which are hazardous must also be handled correctly. Personal protective equipment should be supplied to all staff, handling these chemicals. All staff must also under go appropriate training before use. Businesses have a duty of care to provide staff with regular medical examinations, if they handle hazardous chemicals regularly. Risk assessments should address the storage of hazardous chemicals. Chemicals must be stored safely and analyzed in accordance to their positioning alongside other chemicals.

Fire assessments should be addressed in every building. Fire risk assessments deal with the legal requirements which should be considered in any building and commercial environment. There are a number of requirements which must be met, to help prevent the occurrence of a fire. Any health and safety course, should identify these risks to you and how you should manage them.

There should be one person who is responsible for the health and safety checks within a business. Fire safety measures should be put into place to help reduce the risks of a fire. It is important that all procedures, policies and building checks are recorded. Some businesses require the use of fire fighting equipment, which should be available and accessible, to those appropriately trained. A businesses reputation can benefit from playing and active role in health and safety as it shows the business cares, for the well being of staff and customers.

Health and safety legislation are very important, as they are there to protect us all from hazards, with risk assessment software available for companies, to help them comply with legislation’s. You can hire a health and safety consultant to help you with you health and safety, or you can train a few of your employees to deal with your businesses health and safety, helping to build you a good reputation.

Construction Health and Safety

On the 6th of April 2007 the government introduced The new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations which are designed to improve the general safety of construction sites and cut down on the number of accidents experienced during construction projects.

This new set of regulations will replace two predecessors – The CMD Regulations 1994 and The Construction (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996. Any outdated regulations were updated before the two sets were consolidated into a single new set of rules and guidelines.

Despite advances in construction and communication technology construction sites are still considered to be unnecessarily dangerous working environments, with around one third of all workplace fatalities occurring in construction and many thousands of injured occurring during construction projects each year. These injuries and deaths have a wide reaching significant impact with colleagues, family, friends and of course the unfortunate individual, not to mention the possible legal implications for the construction company involved.

The primary aim of the new regulations is to build construction health and safety into every stage of building projects from start to finish. The regulations apply to everyone involved with a construction project and stipulate that each must take account of health and safety. This starts with the Client who commissions the construction works and includes Designers, Principle Contractors, Contractors and Construction Workers.

Another aim of the new regulations is the discouragement and removal of all unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy which are since as a major contributing factor in construction injuries and fatalities. By eliminating hazards at the earliest stages of design and focussing effort where it will be most effective the new regulations should allow for more attention to be paid to important on site issues.

Whilst these benefits of the new CDM regulations clearly apply to construction companies, construction workers and other related professions, many of them also impact directly on clients who either do their own small scale construction and maintenance work or contract it out to others. If a person believes the new regulations do not affect them because they are not involved in the construction industry then they are probably wrong. For example, if the person has responsibility for any property that requires occasional maintenance work then, as the Client, they are required to comply with some very specific duties.

Within the new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations a domestic client is defined as anyone who lives, or will live in the premises where the construction work is carried out. Although a domestic client does not have construction health and safety duties under the CDM Regulations 2007 anyone employed by them on a construction project will.

Other roles also have defined duties under the new CDM regulations, for example:

Designers – this includes any person responsible for any part of the design work such as Architects, Project Managers, Quantity Surveyors, Engineers, Interior Designers or anyone else who is traditionally employed on the design stage of a construction project as a “contractor”.

Principal Contractor – this is the key duty holder responsible for including health and safety compliance in the overall planning, effective management and coordination of the construction phase.

Contractor – this includes any person who carries out or manages construction work as part of their business activities.

Importance Of Health And Safety Signs At Workplace

When you are working at a place that is prone to accidents, you need safety signs to guide you with all your tasks. Although most companies would give good training on the various procedures and tasks, you still need the health and safety signs or boards. The safety symbols and signs can be tough to remember, especially if there are several signs to be remembered. In a typical manufacturing scenario, the worker class has to be informed about the safety equipment and the safety measures that they need to take while they are at work.

Some Common Signs And Symbols

One of the most common safety boards that you will see at the construction sites is the Caution sign. The Caution sign has the word Caution on the top of the board and the words Construction Area would be below it. In addition, you would also find words such as “Authorized Personnel Only.”

In the electrical workshops or electronic manufacturing units, the most common safety board that you will see is the Danger sign board. The word Danger is usually printed inside a circle, and the color of the circle is red. The red color is very conspicuous and so it is used in such signs. Below the word Danger, you will find words such as High Voltage to give an indication that there is a danger of an electric shock.

The Restricted area sign is also very common these days. You will find these boards at corporate houses, manufacturing companies, or workshops. The Restricted area sign board is generally used to tell people that they cannot enter that place. In addition to the words Restricted area, you will also find the words Authorized personnel only. Again, as mentioned above, this would mean that only people who have authorized access can enter the restricted area.

If there is a restricted area sign board, you may have to use your identification card or swipe card to gain access. In addition to the identification card to the swipe card, you may also have to punch in few numbers as a security measure. Sign boards can be used for safety as well as for security. If there are chances of chemical hazards or fire hazards, it is best recommended to have first aid posters at strategic places where you find that the chances of fire or chemical hazard are high.

Where Do You Get Safety Sign Boards?

Safety and health signs are easily available in the market. You can even prepare them on your own. If you want to get customized safety and health signs, you can contact a dealer who deals in safety and health signs. When selecting the safety and health signs, you need to make sure that you have the correct signs and symbols. If you want some basic information on the signs and symbols, you can read some good safety books or check out few videos on the Internet. You can also buy the safety books from the Internet.

You will have to check out some good online book stores that are selling the safety books. When you stick the safety signs on the walls or boards, you need to make sure that people read it. You can use attractive pictures and colorful graphics to make the sign boards more conspicuous.

IT Health and Safety Training: Highly Important

IT health and safety have come a long way and today, regardless of the size of an organisation, employers are required to initiate DSE training for employees who regularly have to work with display screen equipment. DSE includes both conventional display screens and those used in laptops, touch-screens and other similar devices. In fact, it is required by law (The Health and Safety DSE Regulations 1992) that employees who use such equipments should be made to undergo this training program to fulfil display screen regulations. This training not only helps to increase safety and awareness, but it also helps employers and employees to aid compliance with workplace regulations.

Nowadays, the majority of the workforce needs to work with computers, making it essential for them to be aware of computer health and safety procedures. A healthy working environment not only boosts productivity and efficiency in employees, but it also protects them from a lot of problems associated with neck, shoulder, back or arm pain, as well as with fatigue and eyestrain. When employment is started, or health risks increase due to a change in working practices, the training should be repeated. Sometimes slight modification and adaptation becomes important, to accommodate new risks to health and safety.

Some of the display screen equipment regulations involve the proper setting of desk and chair for assured comfort, ideal placement and use of computer screen, keyboard, and mouse so that there is no feeling of strain or fatigue, understanding the importance of maintaining a good posture during work, taking breaks from prolonged use of DSE, and also an awareness of the working environment, which includes lighting, noise, temperature, and anything that can affect comfort, well-being and efficiency at work. These aspects of the working environment can go a long way in enhancing efficiency and safety and reducing stress and health risks of individuals.

Employers should ideally perform health and safety risk assessments of workstations and carry out DSE assessments on a regular basis. They should also ensure that the employees are provided with adequate information regarding all aspects of health and safety relating to their workstations. One important factor that should be kept in mind is that the training program should be made interactive and enjoyable, so that the employees find it a fun and knowledge filled program designed for their well being and comfort, instead of feeling that the regulations have been imposed upon them.

Conducting a Health and Safety Training Program in the Workplace

A good occupational health and safety program is not complete without training. It is significant that the workers are able to understand what to do to avoid health and safety hazards and what to do in case of accidents. Giving orientation sessions is not enough because the workers also need skills, aside from knowledge, in performing tasks related to the program. Training, therefore, is the key to enable the workers to gain control over their health and safety in the workplace since this addresses the skills needed for the learners.

Now, how does a company conduct a training program on occupational health and safety? The company, the safety committee, or a group assigned to be in charge of training should first consider the training needs of the workers, which can be done through a survey or series of interviews. Knowing their training needs would help the group to tailor fit the topics for the workers. For instance, are the workers knowledgeable on emergency measures? Or are they oriented on the use of equipment? If the workers do not know how to use a fire extinguisher or where the exit routes are, perhaps the trainers can plan sessions for these. Making a training design, therefore, is dependent on the training needs of the workers.

In creating a training design, bear in mind the knowledge and skills the workers need to learn. Appropriate methods must be planned carefully. The trainers may choose from a wide variety of methods such as giving lectures, facilitating group discussions and activities, demonstration and return-demonstration, and even role playing.

After determining the right method in training the workers, the trainers should plan what resources they will use. Resources include references for the training and training materials. Going back to the example on training in the workplace, the trainer should include an appropriate number of fire extinguishers and some flammable materials for demonstration. Flowcharts may also be made and used to train them on emergency measures. A map or an actual tour in the workplace may also be done to show the exit routes.

After creating the training design, the next thing to do is to implement the training. It is important though at the end of the training session if the workers are able to learn what you taught them. Evaluation of the workers can also be done days after the training.

Training for occupational health and safety in the workplace can be a daunting and difficult task. But after observing that the workers are able to perform their roles in ensuring good health and safety for everyone, the company could see that it is all worth it.

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