A manager’s guide to avoiding health and safety issues in the workplace

lady-trip1As a manager, one of your prime responsibilities in the workplace is to provide a safe and healthy environment in which your employees can work. Health and safety issues can have a major impact on how your business operates, and if you’re found to be in breach of legislation and regulations and an employee has an accident, your company could be in line for some serious financial penalties, not to mention reputational damage.

How can you ensure your workplace is as safe as it possibly can be for your workforce? There are a number of simple steps you can take to help your employees avoid accidents, and if you implement them you will have every chance of minimizing any problems.

Post your rules

When you employ someone you will give them the company rules that will include health and safety issues. Your employee may read them, or may not. Employees certainly have a responsibility to themselves, their co-workers and the company, but to make certain that everything is taken on board it’s a good idea to post signs or rules that are highly visible to your employees. Thus if somebody has an avoidable accident you have a greater degree of protection from a potential lawsuit.

Carry out risk assessments

No matter what line of business you’re in, you should look at all areas of your workplace so that you can eliminate, as far as possible, risks to your employees. Construction sites are obviously different to working in a backroom office, just as working in a pressurized kitchen environment is different to working in agriculture. All workplaces have potential dangers.

Some of these are obvious. Working in a kitchen leads to a risk of getting burnt; in agriculture, dangerous machinery can cause serious injury or even death; in construction, there is the ever present danger of falling or slipping.

Office work carries risks as well, just not those that are instantly recognized. An employee can trip, slip or fall, be injured by poor electrical installation or be hurt by lifting something heavy. If you take care to look after your employees’ welfare, not only will you head off potential lawsuits when something goes wrong but you’ll also be demonstrating that you and your business cares.

Look for warning signs

Some of your employees may have problems with excessive alcohol or drug use and you need to be aware of this. Those who do have problems can lose concentration and put themselves and other employees in danger. You should spell out your policy on drugs and intoxicants at work when employing people, but keep an eye out for employees who are late for work, don’t turn up, or whose actions may threaten the welfare of others.

Testing for drugs

Drugs tests are part and parcel of many workplaces today, and an oral fluid lab test is a simple yet effective way of determining if an employee has a problem. You do need to ensure that you have a policy and that the employee agrees.

In the end, you want the safest workplace you can provide, so it’s worth being proactive rather than having to react when something goes wrong.

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