Any Health and Safety officer will tell you that the best way to reduce accidents in the workplace is to take a proactive stance of prevention. Accidents at work can be easily prevented, but it is mandatory that you consistently communicate your expectations to your employees on a regular basis to help implement these prevention methods.
Each industry has its own individual safety requirements and guidelines which employers must adhere to. Often, however, within these rules and regulation, the element of human error can be overlooked which is why most workplace accidents occur. It is therefore your responsibility as an employer to ensure the most basic safety needs of employees are met. Here we will guide you through some of the basic and preventative ways in which employers can avoid accidents within the workplace.
The first step to prevention to put formal health and safety policies and procedures in place that clearly states to everyone on the premises steps that must be taken in order to prevent accidents. The next step is to put someone in charge of these safety measures and regularly meet with them to discuss how to coordinate these plans. This person must be fully aware of the responsibilities that come with this position and be willing to cooperate in discussing safety concerns and how they can be addressed to prevent further accidents.
Once these plans have been discussed it is your job as an employer to voice any concerns with employees, letting them know the importance of safety on the premises. This can be done verbally through your safety manager or voiced through the information shown throughout the premises.
The correct training not only ensures that your employees are able and qualified to carry out their work, it also ensures that they understand the importance of the safety surrounding each task. You will often find that most accidents occur as a direct result of shortcuts being taken- something that is less likely to occur with regular training. The knowledge that trying to complete a task in a hurry or becoming over-familiar with the job can lead to injuries is key to avoiding accidents.
The cleanliness of a workplace is more than simply aesthetics. Unbeknown to most, a clean space whether it be in an office, an industrial space or otherwise can act as a deterrent to work accidents. Unclean and cluttered workspaces are increasingly prone to hazards and therefore ensuring employees maintain a strict level of hygiene and organisation is key. Whether it be within an office environment or an industrial space, keeping the spaces clear and clean apply across all industries.
Protection equipment for each employee is essential and employees should be reminded of this upon hiring, at meetings and at random intervals to fully express the potential consequences of not doing so. Ensure that each employee is fully aware of how to use equipment particularly when working in an industrial environment where there are many hazardous machines and tools.
Educate & Communicate
Regardless of how much time and effort you put into ensuring your workplace is safe, human error is often the cause of the majority of accidents. It is therefore important that you take it upon yourself to effectively communicate with your employees what it expected of them and what is required to maintain safety standards for themselves and others. The more employees understand the gravity and importance of doing so, the less likely it is that accidents will occur.
However, it is not only good enough to verbalise your concerns for safety, but you must also be willing to act if necessary. If a safety hazard is identified it is paramount to address this situation immediately in order to correct it. You cannot simply assume that your regular verbalising of the importance of safety will prompt someone to rectify this safety hazard, you must act yourself as otherwise it’s an accident just waiting to happen.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure any area with potential hazards is clearly marked with the appropriate signage. Many industries, most commonly industrial and commercial require these signs by law to inform employees of potential risks and how to avoid accidents. However, even small businesses can benefit from these invaluable counter measures to protect the business and your employees.
Finally you can further involve your employees by asking them whether they have any suggestions about improving workplace safety or any concerns about current safety hazards. As much as having one safety coordinator is helpful in maintaining safety standards, utilising a handful of eyes and ears will always be the better option.
Undoubtedly, the most effective way to reduce accidents in the workplace is to take a clear and proactive position on prevention. Accidents can often be prevented with common sense, but it ultimately falls to you as an employer to ensure that these ‘common sense’ measures are adhered to whether that be in regard to training, cleaning communication etc.