Managing Health and safety efficiently in the workplace
Managing health and safety competently in the workplace is crucial to creating a productive and safe work environment. It is your responsibility to stay on top of all possible health and safety issues, and have a thorough health and safety plan which everyone in the business is aware of.
Before you implement any kind of response to a health and safety issue, it is important to consider what exactly the factors that pose a risk are. In order to perform a thorough risk assessment you need to include various steps. Firstly, identify all potential hazards.. A good place to start is to walk around your workplace, you can also look at any ill-health or accident records (which are very important to keep), as well as taking into consideration any non-routine operations which could possibly cause harm.
The second step is assessing who might be harmed; who works in which part of your workspace? Are their any passers-by who could be harmed too?
You need to ask yourself two questions: can you eliminate the hazard altogether? If not, how can you lower the risk of someone being harmed? Lastly, note down your findings, and give the assessment to your employees; this doesn’t absolve you of anything, but it does encourage employees to take their health and safety into their own hands to some degree.
Employee competence is essential to ensuring everyone is safe at work. It is your job to make sure every employee has the correct skills and training to perform their tasks without putting themselves or anyone else at risk. If you hire contractors, they must also be competent to perform their tasks. When assessing competency, you need to take into account training and skills, physical ability, attitude, experience and knowledge. As Judith Hackitt, head of the HSE says:
‘The essence of competence is relevance to the workplace. What matters is that there is a proper focus on both the risks that occur most often and those with serious consequences.’
You need to do more than just notify your employees of risks in the workplace. How you involve your employees will depend on how your workplace is run. You may consult your employees face-to-face, or talk to a representative. In terms of getting people involved, you need to have long-term and short-term goals, to create a sustainable health and safety culture.. Set benchmarks and reward employees who reach them; and remember to take your time with this, change is always difficult, and by making slow and steady progress you will create something long-lasting. It is your duty to involve your workforce as equal partners, seek their views and value the contribution they can make in all areas of health and safety.
Plan, Do, Check Act
This overarches everything spoken about in this article, and provides you with a framework you can build a great health and safety record on. HSE recommends Plan, Do, Check and Act as the four steps you should always take when dealing with health and safety.
- Plan – Think about where you are and where you need to be, across the board. Remember to plan for changes, as well as deciding how you will measure progress.
- Do – Implement plans, organise activities and identify risk profiles.
- Check – Review your performance via the records you have kept, assess the areas of health and safety that still need improvements.
- Act – Implement change in the areas you assessed to need it. Revisit and change any policies or risk assessments if needs be.
By taking these elements into account, you should be able to build an efficient, thorough health and safety culture that ensures the safety of anyone in your workplace.
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