Workplace safety obstacles
Safety should always be a top priority in any workplace, regardless if you work in an office setting or in a construction site. However, as evident by countless statistics over the years, workplace accidents are simply waiting to happen. Even though there are rigorous safety standards, accidents seem happen in any workplace. So this week I thought that I would look at the five biggest obstacles to look out for so that you can improve the health and safety at your workplace.
We also have 2 recent HSE cases for you to look at and think about:
- The problem was identified only when a CO monitor activated and the homeowner and her son investigated. The damaged boiler was switched off before potentially any serious ill-health could occur.
- The worker was air lifted to hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery. He was released from hospital on Christmas Eve, having lost both legs just below the knees.
We hope you learn from the mistakes of others that are highlighted in our weekly newsletters and, as a result, do not have similar accidents at your workplace.
Workplace safety obstacles
Safety should always be a top priority in any workplace, regardless if you work in an office setting or in a construction site. However, as evident by countless statistics over the years, workplace accidents are simply waiting to happen. Even though there are rigorous safety standards, accidents seem happen in any workplace. So let’s look at the five biggest obstacles that can impede the health and safety at your workplace.
Lack of Training
If you do not ensure that you and your workforce are suitably trained, you will be increasing the likelihood of accidents in your workplace.
Safety training is not an option, it is a priority. In fact it is a legal obligation The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires you to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of your employees.
This is expanded by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which identify situations where health and safety training is particularly important, e.g. when people start work, on exposure to new or increased risks and where existing skills may have become rusty or need updating.
Who needs health and safety training?
- You do! Whether you are an employer or self-employed, are you sure that you’re up to date with how to identify the hazards and control the risks from your work? Do you know how to get help – from your trade association, your local Chamber of Commerce, or your health and safety enforcing authority? Do you know what you have to do about consulting your employees, or their representatives, on health and safety issues? If not, you would probably benefit from some training.
- Your managers and supervisors do! If you employ managers or supervisors they need to know what you expect from them in terms of health and safety, and how you expect them to deliver. They need to understand your health and safety policy, where they fit in, and how you want health and safety managed. They may also need training in the specific hazards of your processes and how you expect the risks to be controlled. Your employees do! Everyone who works for you, including self-employed people, needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. Like your supervisors, they need to know about your health and safety policy, your arrangements for implementing it, and the part they play. They also need to know how they can raise any health and safety concerns with you.
- Contractors and self-employed people who may be working for you do! Remember, these people might not be familiar with your working environment and safety systems that you have put in place for regular employees.
A lack of safety training is the greatest obstacle to workplace safety.
In an era of high-paced environments with distracting technologies, it is easy for any worker to lose awareness.
Smartphones, the Internet, social media and emails are among the main distractions that can prove to be an obstacle to workplace e health and safety . In a recent survey, more than half of the employers surveyed say the biggest distraction at work comes from employees using their smart phones, with 44 percent saying the same about employees using the Internet.
It is essential for all members of the workforce to pay attention to their surroundings at all times. A common cause of workplace accidents is negligence to various hazards. I have seen operatives on construction site wearing ear protection – good.
But these were covering the earphones to their iPhone or radio.Distractions can easily impede any operation. For this reason, it is essential that employees be free of any electronic devices and assures their attention is on the task at hand at all times.
Workplace distractions can lead to some pretty significant consequences. Sadly there are too often accidents that happened because somebody wasn’t concentrating properly on what they were doing, because they were distracted by something or someone else.
The survey discovered that these interruptions can negatively affect quality of work, employee morale and the boss/employee relationships. Recognising the difficulties these distractions can cause, nearly three-quarters of employers have taken at least one step to alleviate the problem.
The policies they have put into place include blocking certain websites, banning personal calls and smartphone use, other than at set lunch and break times, monitoring email and Internet use, limiting meetings, and having an open-space layout instead of cubicles.
One of the best ways to limit the health and safety risks from these distractions is for employees to take regular breaks. “Taking breaks from work throughout the day can also be good for productivity, enabling the mind to take a break from the job at hand and re-energize.”
Slips and trips are the most common cause of injury at work. On average, they cause 40 per cent of all reported major injuries and can also lead to other types of serious accidents, for example falls from height. Slips and trips are also the most reported injury to members of the public.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) requires employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes taking steps to control slip and trip risks. Employees have a duty not to put themselves or others in danger, and must use any safety equipment provided.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to assess risks (including slip and trip risks) and, where necessary, take action to address them.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require floors to be suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions. People should be able to move around safely.
What can employers do to prevent slips and trips?
You must manage the health and safety risks in your workplace. To do this you need to decide whether you are doing enough to prevent harm. This process is known as a risk assessment and it is something you are required by law to carry out.
A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about taking sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace, for example using doormats to stop rainwater being tracked in and making the floor slippery.
You are probably already taking steps to protect your employees, but your risk assessment will tell you whether you should be doing more. Consider what risks in your workplace may lead to slip or trip injuries, and decide what suitable and effective control measures will prevent these types of accidents.
You then need to put these control measures into practice. Concentrate on the real risks – those that are most likely to cause harm. Think about how accidents could happen and who might be harmed. You can do this by:
- asking your employees what they think the hazards are, as they may notice things that are not obvious to you and may have some good ideas on how to control the risks;
- using a hazard-spotting checklist and slips and trips mapping tool to help you identify problem areas (contact The Wilkins Safety Group for further help with this if needed);
- In many instances, straightforward measures can readily control risks, for example ensuring spillages are cleaned up promptly so people do not slip.
Tired, stressed and dehydrated personnel
This obstacle is unique and far varying from the other three, yet it is a direct physical threat to all employees. The greatest obstacle most workers have are themselves and this is even more true with a tired and stressed worker.
Simply put, workers will not perform at their best unless their body is treated at its best. A tired or stressed member of staff is far more likely to take dangerous shortcuts and less likely to be aware of their surroundings.
Work related stress develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. Stress, including work related stress, can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as more errors.
Stress can hit anyone at any level of the business and recent research shows that work related stress is widespread and is not confined to particular sectors, jobs or industries. That is why a population-wide approach is necessary to tackle it.
Furthermore, dehydrated workers are at a higher risk for heat stroke or to develop cardiac conditions. The severity of these conditions can be deadly.
In addition, fatigued personnel place all other workers at risk. It is essential that management look at the frequency of breaks and assure all staff have access to water/drinks so that they are ready to perform. It is imperative to take frequent breaks and drink about 1 litre of water during the day.
In addition, it is essential for employees to attempt to sleep eight hours per night to assure adequate energy for the next work day. In gruelling conditions that often accompany many high pressure jobs, this is absolutely imperative.
Not being prepared for an emergency
In the event of an emergency, a comprehensive plan can assure all employees and workers are protected from potentially deadly consequences. Sadly, many employees are unsure if such a plan exists. In many occasions, management ignores this as “Something unlikely to happen”.
In the event of an accident, the implementation of recovery policies and procedures can serve as a framework to handle the most complex of scenarios.
From these action plans, a course of action and a chain of command are implemented. It is essential that all employees know what to do in a variety of emergency situations.
This picture is of a “Fire Exit” door I found in a furniture warehouse that was open to the public. You must first remove the steel bar that is preventing the emergency push bar from working. This steel bar has been screwed into the door frame!!
Failing to establish this foundation is a great obstacle for any workplace and can cause significant collateral damage in the result of an actual emergency.
If you have any topic you would like us to cover in this newsletter please contact us by phone 01458 253682, email.
Taunton & Somerset CPD Group at The Lawns Taunton
Martin Kent our Customer Relations Manager has arranged this month’s seminar – see below. As previously requested, if you could let Martin know whether or not you can attend it would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you would like to give a talk, or know of somebody who would, please email Martin.
Our next Seminar will now be on Wednesday 8th November not the 18th due to catering availability. Could you please arrive by 12:15pm as we will in future be starting the presentation at 12-30pm prompt.
Our speaker for this one is Dave White from Robex Industrial Products
If you haven’t already booked your place, or if you are not on the CPD Seminar mailing list but would like to be please drop Martin an email and he will deal with your request.
Just to give you some advanced notice the next seminar will be 22nd November when Savills will be coming along.
We are pleased to announce that we have been appointed to provide “In House” training for three prestigious customers. One in Cheltenham and Two in London.
We have recently provided training for Regional Directors of Bovis Homes at their offices in Cheltenham
In October, we are training Representatives from Wellcome Trust at their office on Euston Road, London.
Then in November we are then providing two training days for staff at the British Museum in Bloomsbury London.
You too can enjoy the benefits of superior accredited training courses as enjoyed by these companies and others.
Listed below are our latest batch of “Open” courses which we are again running at the Taunton Racecourse which is beautifully situated in the heart of the South Somerset countryside. The unique atmosphere and panoramic views across the racecourse to the Blackdown Hills, along with their excellent buffet lunches, make the racecourse the perfect location for successful learning.
Also remember we are still available for running “In House” courses and are looking to add new training courses to our list.
If you have any questions about these courses or any other training or would like us to run a particular course for you, call Jon Wilkins of the Wilkins Safety Group on 01458 253682 or email him.