Staying safe at work is paramount for both employers and employees alike, yet there are thousands of incidents each year where people are injured and killed whilst at work. Having good policies in place is a starting point, but in order to implement these policies, they need to be communicated and adhered to throughout the whole team.
The following are some tips which will help you and your team stay safe at work.
1). Knowing your surroundings
No matter where you work, it is crucial that you know your surroundings and are aware of any hazardous or potentially hazardous areas. This is particularly important if you work in an environment with machinery or on building sites. This said, all work environments can be hazardous including offices where you can be at risk of highly unpleasant DSE injuries or at risk of fire incidents. All work areas should be risk assessed and all hazards should be controlled to make the working environment safe. When a new member of staff starts or you start work at a new site, it is important that a safety induction is provided which highlights the known hazards, explains the necessary controls such as the need to wear safety goggles and foot protection and ensures that staff can be safe at work. Higher risk working environments may require detailed training and explanation relating to safe systems of work and how to operate machines. Ensure you and your staff work safely.
2). Take plenty of breaks
We cannot stress the importance of taking regular breaks to keep your mind and body fresh. Many workplace injuries are caused by fatigue and tiredness which affects how alert you are in your surroundings. Make sure you take breaks and schedule the most physically and mentally enduring tasks for when you are at your most alert. Be particularly alert to the risks of fatigue when operating machinery or driving for work. Each year many people are killed and injured as a consequence of fatigue.
3). Be aware of your posture
Whether you work at a desk or your work involves physical tasks such as lifting, always be aware of your posture. If you work at a desk, keep your shoulders back and in line with your hips, and don’t sit in one position for too long without taking breaks. If your work involves heavy lifting never bend forward, always bend at the knees and keep the correct posture at all times. Your work activities should be risk assessed and necessary controls should be in place. Make sure you have up to date DSE assessments and make sure you have received manual handling training.
4). Use the correct procedures when using tools
Always ensure that you follow the correct safety procedures and safe systems of work when using tools of any kind. Whether it’s scaffolding, ladders or machine tools, always take the correct precautions. Never use a tool that you have no experience with or adequate training. If the activity or machinery you undertake/ operate requires specific training make sure that operators are sufficiently trained and experienced. Businesses must supervise staff and ensure that safety controls are being used.
5). Emergency exists
Make sure you are aware of the location of all emergency exists and always ensure that access is clear. If you see that an emergency exit is blocked speak to the relevant member of staff and make sure it is cleared. Emergency exits are where they are for a reason and are required. It is also important that emergency exits are regularly checked to make sure that the doors and opening mechanisms work properly. Don’t just check that emergency exits are clear on the inside but check the outside too. Check that emergency pathways are kept clear and in good condition and also make sure that emergency lighting is functioning properly too. Finally, if you work with colleagues, customers or students with disabilities check that they can use the provided emergency exits. Many old emergency doors open out onto steps which are dangerous for wheelchair users. Ensure that your organisation has adequate provision for evacuating people of all abilities. Don’t just assume that the plan is acceptable, speak to people about it and ensure that the users are happy with the plans that are in place.
6). Use equipment to make your job easier
If equipment is available which can make a task easier and safer always go with this option. For example, if heavy lifting is required is a pallet truck, forklift or wheelbarrow available to use? If no equipment is available and you are asked to move something heavier than you are comfortable with, just say no! It is your employer’s responsibility to keep you safe. Remember, it is important that you know how to use any equipment that you are provided with so ensure that you have had the correct training for the equipment. Fork lift trucks require specialist training but other equipment, such as a pallet truck, may only require familiarisation training.
7). Never take alcohol or drugs at work
A worryingly high proportion of workplace injuries take place due to drug or alcohol use. No matter what your job is or where you work, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs will affect your ability to concentrate and focus on the task at hand, putting you at risk. You have a legal duty to work safely and alcohol and drugs make workplaces dangerous. If you are having difficulties with alcohol or drugs speak to you GP in confidence and seek help. Many people recover from drug and alcohol issues each year through organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
8). Wear protective equipment
Always ensure that you have access to the correct safety equipment for any given task. For example, if you work in construction you should have access to equipment such hard hats, gloves, safety goggles and ear protectors. If you are ever asked to carry out a physical task always ask for the required equipment before proceeding.
9). Report unsafe conditions as soon as you see it
If you see any conditions at work that look or feel unsafe, make sure you report it to your boss or supervisor straight away. They are legally obliged to ensure that the workforce is kept safe at all times.
10). General health
Another important, but often overlooked, health and safety measure if to try to keep yourself as fit and healthy as possible. Try to get enough sleep so that you don’t come into work tired and unable to concentrate. Consider your diet and exercise regime, and take steps to manage stress in other areas of your life. These are all factors which can affect your ability to focus and concentrate at work, and your ability to stay safe.
We have plenty of online courses that are essential if you are serious in protecting yourself and your workforce.
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It is always a good idea to ‘try before you buy.’ If you would like to view our online courses you can sign up to view the first modules of all of our online health and safety courses. They were designed by experts with you in mind. JCH Safety are committed to making light work of health and safety in order to ensure our clients are kept safe at work.
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