Creating a safe work environment is nothing short of essential for every business owner and manager in the UK. Not only does doing so serve to protect the well-being of your employees, but it also ensures compliance with UK law in relation to workplace health and safety. There are myriad steps to ensuring a work environment is a safe one, but what are some key areas on which to focus?
Infrastructural Maintenance and Repair
Maintaining a safe working environment should start with maintaining your physical business premises. This stands for the structural security of the building and the quality of its infrastructure in the form of water pipes and electrical wiring.
Another often-overlooked aspect of this maintenance is the outside paving or pathways. Neglected or damaged paving can be a major trip hazard, increasing the risk of falls. To avoid accidents, it’s important to regularly inspect and renovate outdoor walkways and paving. Fixing cracks, repairing uneven surfaces, and ensuring proper drainage are essential steps in preventing workplace injuries.
Provision of PPE
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) plays a vital role in keeping employees safe from workplace hazards as a last resort for the prevention of harm. Every business will have its own unique risks associated with specific operations and undertakings, requiring specific PPE provisions as a result. Common PPE provisions on construction sites, for example, might be safety helmets, gloves, protective eyewear, and high-visibility clothing.
Not only should you be providing PPE and replacement items on a regular basis, but also ensuring that employees are trained in their proper use, maintenance, and storage. With clear guidelines on how to report damaged or malfunctioning equipment, you are well-placed to provide a continually safe environment for active staff.
Protection for Working at Height
If your business involves working at height, for example, as with construction or roofing, it is naturally important to ensure that workers have access to appropriate equipment like ladders, scaffolding, and harnesses. These items should be regularly inspected, and training should be regularly given on their correct usage. This can be policed through the conducting of regular safety audits to identify any potential hazards or areas for improvement, as well as to encourage transparency between workers.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health, or COSHH, regulations aim to protect employees from exposure to hazardous substances. Many businesses keep hazardous materials on-site beyond the obvious candidates, with cleaning solutions falling under COSHH regulation. As a business, you should assess any substances used in your workplace and identify the potential health risks they pose.
Following this, you should implement appropriate measures to safely store said chemicals and control employee exposure to them. Here, training is just as important as assessment and physical prevention. Clear and visible warning signs should be placed across your sites and near chemical storage stations to alert employees to the presence of hazardous substances.
Creating a safe working environment requires a proactive approach from business owners and managers. A safe workplace not only keeps you legally compliant but also protects your most valuable asset—your employees—while contributing to the overall success of your business.