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Hazard pay - how to reduce common workplace risks in your business

Stephen Hunt - Law on the Web

  1. 14 July 2015
  2. Business
  3. 0 comments

If you are seeking to reduce the number of accidents that occur in your workplace, you should be aware of common hazards that appear in working environments. These may or may not be identified by a risk assessment – see this page for more on risk assessments.

Slips, trips and falls

Perhaps the most common types of workplace accident are encapsulated by this phrase. According to the Health and Safety Executive, slips and trips are the cause of around 40 percent of all reported major injuries.

What the law says on slips, trips and falls

You should minimise the risk to your employees of slips, trips and falls as part of your duty to protect the health and safety of your employees and anyone affected by their work under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The risk of many of these accidents can be reduced or eliminated entirely by good housekeeping. This is essentially making sure that your workplace is kept clean, clear and free of obstructions such as trailing wires.

Good housekeeping can also include making sure visibility is good in all parts of the premises, for example  by ensuring that lighting is sufficient and that slopes or steps are clearly visible so that nobody injures themselves as a result of not being able to see where they are going. It would also be wise to instil an attitude within your employees that they should, where appropriate, take immediate action when such issues are noticed and not wait for cleaners or other members of staff

The design and state of repair of the building(s) in which you work may also play a part in the likelihood of accidents occurring. An uneven floor, for example, could prove to be a considerable hazard and should be remedied as soon as possible. It is also important to look out for spillages and leaks and remove them quickly.

Keeping floors in the workplace in good condition is a legal obligation contained in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

If you have an ongoing problem with contaminated floors then you need to consider whether your cleaning processes are appropriate. You could consider whether the time at which you clean gives the floor sufficient time to dry, for example.

As well as water you need to look out for other forms of contamination such as oil and dust which may render the surface slippery.

If you cannot reasonably be expected to keep your floors dry, you should consider equipping your employees with special slip-resistant footwear, although this shouldn’t be at the expense of their comfort.

The Health and Safety Executive provides a detailed checklist to help you identify potential safety issues in your workplace and take appropriate action to address them.

Workplace equipment and transport

Accidents can happen when employees are using potentially dangerous machinery. You should ensure that adequate procedures are in place to protect employees when using these machines so that the number of accidents is reduced.

The key things to ensure here are that:

  • equipment is properly maintained
  • you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use
  • your employees are fully trained and competent to use the equipment

You should not allow your employees to use any equipment that is unsafe.

If any forms of transport are used in your workplace, this can also prove hazardous. According to the Health and Safety Executive every year, there are over 5000 accidents involving transport in the workplace and around 50 of these result in people being killed. Accidents could happen as a result of employees falling off vehicles, or being hit by vehicles or objects falling from them.

To alleviate this risk you should consider implementing safe traffic routes, where vehicles and pedestrians can be kept apart. You can also make sure signs are in place and that speed limits are enforced to ensure an extra layer of security.

Other measures that could be taken are to eliminate the amount of reversing that vehicles need to undertake, and make sure vehicles provide their drivers with adequate visibility.

Working at heights

Work done at a height, e.g. on scaffolding, ladders and staircases, can present a risk, both to the person working there and people below (as objects may fall).

To reduce the risk of accidents you can:

  • make sure workers who work at height can get safely from and to their working position
  • ensure any equipment used is suitable, stable and properly maintained
  • implement emergency evacuation procedures

You should not allow anyone who does not have the relevant skills, knowledge and experience to work at a height.

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