What are Employers Responsible For?
If you are an employer, you are responsible for ensuring the occupational health and safety of the people in your employment. No matter what industry you work in, this will include providing them with appropriate training, giving them safe and up to date equipment, enforcing the correct procedures for job tasks, monitoring these procedures and holding frequent health and safety meetings and assessments. Your goal will be to keep your employees informed about the safest way to do their jobs, so that they can avoid injuring themselves while performing any of their required tasks.
What to Keep in Mind
There are many things that you will need to keep in mind when it comes to occupational health and safety, as there are a number of risks that need to be considered.
You have probably thought about the risks that are particularly obvious for your industry. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of all of the different safety considerations and there might be a few that you are not thinking about. Here are a few potential occupational health and safety hazards that might not be on your mind:
1). Communicable Diseases
Diseases such as cold and flu spread incredibly quickly through a workplace and they can knock out a large portion of your workforce very quickly. In our culture, we don’t discourage people from coming to work when they are ill, which makes this even more of an issue.
How can you cut down on the risk of spreading diseases in the workplace?
First of all, encourage employees to stay home and rest if they are ill, especially if they have cold and flu symptoms. You can even give them the option to work from home if their job can be done remotely. Also, make sure that the working environment is kept clean and sanitary and that employees follow hygienic procedures such as hand washing to discourage the spread of bacteria.
2). Toxic Environments
As more companies start to move into older office buildings with cheaper rent, certain problems will result from chemicals in the environment. Many old buildings contain asbestos, which can be very dangerous when inhaled. It can cause respiratory issues and also increases the risk of developing mesothelioma, which is a type of lung cancer.
If you will be working in an older building, make sure that you have the environment tested to make sure that it does not contain asbestos or any other hazardous materials. If it does you should not remove the material yourself, but have a professional perform the task in the regulated way.
3). Back Problems
If your employees spend all day working at a desk, you might not think that they are exposed to a lot of occupational health and safety risks. After all, they are not working around fire, heavy machinery or at heights. However, one of the occupational health and safety risks that you might not be considering is the health of their spine. Slouching in front of a computer all day in a poorly designed workstation can cause backache and strain and results in a lot of stress on the spine.
Supply your desk workers with good quality ergonomic chairs that will give their backs support and that they can adjust to their own appropriate height. Also, encourage them to get up and stretch frequently throughout the day to keep their spine limber.
These are just a few of the occupational health and safety risks that you might not have been considering. Make sure that you are thinking about these issues within your workplace!
The IOSH Managing Safely and NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety courses are a great training course for those with responsibilities for occupational health and safety in the workplace.
- Meet your legal requirement with a risk assessment
- How are your risk assessments?
- Performing risk assessments
- Use risk assessments to avoid prosecution
- Reducing risk in the workplace
- Working at Height - learn how to reduce the risks
- Are you putting your workers lives at risk?
- Reducing the risk of fire with NEBOSH fire safety training