One of the challenges that many small and medium business enterprises face is providing adequate health and safety training for their staff. However, this is essential if companies want to safeguard their workforce and avoid expensive and time consuming health and safety law suits. What follows is an overview of the steps that employers need to take to cover basic health and safety standards in the workplace.
All employers have what is known in legal terms, as a ‘duty of care’ to ensure that their premises are safe places to work. This duty of care covers a number of different aspects, such as the obligation to make the workplace safe and prevent any risks to health. In order to do that, the employer should ensure that all machinery and equipment in the place of work is safe to use. All materials must be handled safely as well as stored safely after use.
The employer must also make sure that the place of work is well ventilated and room temperatures are at a comfortable level. Premises should also be well lit and kept clean. In the case of offices or other premises where employees spend a lot of time in the same workspace, each employee should be allocated a workspace of at least 11 cubic metres. Employees must also be provided with clean drinking water and washing facilities.
Regular checks should be conducted to make sure that floors, stairs, walkways and other areas of the premises are in good working order. Employees should be given appropriate rest breaks and enough time to eat meals if working for several hours at a time. Care should also be taken to ensure that employees make use of holiday time that is allocated to them to prevent them from becoming overworked.
It is important to set up emergency plans such as a fire evacuation plan and make sure that all employees are aware of the plan. The easiest way to do this is to arrange regular fire drills, which will ensure that employees are aware of the evacuation procedure and check that fire alarms and other related warning systems are in good working order.
A medical kit should be available somewhere on the premises and all employees should be informed of where the medical kit is kept. In the case of larger companies, it may also be worth considering employing a medical practitioner.
NET Lawman provides some really useful documents with explanatory notes on health and safety procedures. Having written policies in place shows your commitment to keeping your staff safe in the workplace.
If you are still uncertain whether or not you have all your health and safety bases covered, you should contact a specialist and ask them to perform a risk assessment at your place of work. You can also employ the services of a health and safety expert to hold a special seminar on health and safety to make sure that both the employers and the employees stay safe while at work.