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Wellbeing at work: keeping employees healthy and safe


10th Mar 2021 Down to Business

Wellbeing at work: keeping employees healthy and safe
Improving workplace health and safety also leads to an improvement in morale and performance. Stress and accidents are leading causes of absenteeism in the workplace. At the same time, these unplanned absences lead to a vicious cycle.
They push the rest of your staff to take on higher workloads since they have to cover the tasks of their colleagues. The added workload translates to increased pressure and more stress, leading to more absences. 
Long term, improvements in terms of health and safety will increase your profitability. Your team will embrace the changes and feel more comfortable in a working environment where they know that their employer cares about their wellbeing and takes all necessary measures to keep them healthy and safe. 
By law, all employers have a duty to create and maintain a safe working environment. If they neglect this duty, and it results in occupational accidents and injuries, they will be held responsible, and their employees can claim compensation for their pain and suffering. You can read more about compensation claims, statistics regarding workplace accidents, and the employer’s duty of care on detailed resources like How-To-Claim.co.uk.
Workplaces have become a lot safer in the past few decades. That’s thanks to major reforms in health and safety legislation enforcement aimed at protecting workers from hazardous practices by compelling employers to provide them with adequate training and safe working environments. 

The health and safety at work etc. Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 lays the groundwork for UK legislation on occupational health and safety. It was created by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to establish the responsibilities businesses have towards their workers. They include:
  • Appropriate training – training ensures that the health and safety protocols are understood by all staff members, which is paramount to successful implementation
  • Satisfactory welfare provisions for workers
  • Access to pertinent information and supervision
  • Adequate management of working environment – protocols must be set in place so that work-related tasks can be performed safely

Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 build upon existing regulations and includes workers’ rights to:
  • Drinking water
  • Washing facilities
  • Proper lighting
  • Proper ventilation
  • Adequate space to work
  • Designated areas for breaks
They also include safety measures regarding equipment and floor spaces. 

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations 1992 (amended 2002)

The DSE Regulations concern employees who regularly use DSE such as computers, laptops and smartphone for more than one hour per day. 
Companies have a legal responsibility to protect them from DSE-related health risks, which entails adequate DSE workstation assessment, ancillary equipment, training, free eye and eyesight examinations and making sure employees take regular breaks. 

The Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 

The Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 clearly defines the employer’s legal responsibilities in terms of health and safety and describes how to fulfil these responsibilities, emphasising risk assessment.
Companies that have five or more employees are required to conduct regular risk assessments and record any relevant finding, such as problem areas and procedural shortcomings.

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 – RIDDOR

Employers have to report certain occupational accidents, injuries and illnesses under RIDDOR:
  • Injuries – fatal and non-fatal
  • Incidents involving gases
  • Incidents that cause a worker to miss more than seven days of work
  • Occupational diseases
  • Dangerous incidents – often referred to as near misses

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 stipulate guidelines for construction work. In addition to basic health and safety provisions, it has a clause which makes it clear that almost everyone on a construction site – contractors, workers, designers, clients – shares the responsibility of ensuring safe working practices. 

The Work at Height Regulations 2005   

Working at height is very dangerous, making it necessary for the Work at Height Regulations 2005 to address appropriate safety measures:
  • The work must be pre-planned with a priority on the workers’ safety
  • Employees who perform their tasks at height must receive proper training
  • Risks have to be evaluated before work begins and the correct equipment must be given to the employees
  • The equipment must be maintained at the legally required level and regularly tested

Know your obligations 

As you can see from the UK regulations mentioned above, all types of businesses must adhere to certain health and safety standards. However, there are also sector-specific guidelines you need to consider, so it’s important to know which apply to you. You should also bear in mind that these regulations are periodically updated, and it’s your responsibility to stay informed. 
The wellbeing of your staff needs to be your top priority. While certain sectors come with higher risks than others, accidents and injuries can take place in any kind of working environment. Negligence and failure to keep your workers safe can not only lead to costly fines and lawsuits, but it can also have a catastrophic effect on your company’s reputation. 
Of course, you can only protect your employees if you know what the risks are, which is why it’s imperative to conduct regular risk assessments and inspections. A qualified inspector can help you create a work environment that complies with HSE standards, especially when combined with rigorous internal safety inspections. 
It also shows your employees that you’re proactive about protecting their wellbeing, which helps with moral and loyalty to your company. Make sure you consult them on safety matters. They are in the best position to give you informed feedback regarding internal health and safety protocols. They can help you minimise risks by revealing any issues that your management team needs to deal with. After all, they are the ones working on the premises every day. 
Last but not least, you need to invest in employee training. As stipulated in the UK work and safety regulations, employees need to be informed about the risks they’re exposed to and learn how to enforce the correct safety measures. This needs to be done regularly, and the training materials need to be updated and improved. This will give your staff the in-depth knowledge they need to react quickly and effectively when the worst happens.
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