As a Businessman, how can I make sure I am looking after my employees’ safety and welfare to the best of my ability?
Simon Horwood, Litigation Executive, Clarke & Son replies:
Any Health and Safety Officer will tell you that the best way to reduce accidents in the workplace is to take a proactive stance of prevention. Accidents can be easily prevented, but it is mandatory that you consistently and regularly communicate your expectations to your employees to help implement these prevention methods.
The first step to prevention is to put in place formal safety policies and procedures that clearly state to everyone on the premises the steps that must be taken in order to prevent accidents. The revision of standard health and safety recommendations to match the unique circumstances of individual premises are often revised by lawyers. The next step is to put someone in charge of these safety measures and regularly meet with them to discuss how to coordinate the plan. This person must be fully aware of the responsibilities that come with this position. They need to be willing to cooperate in discussing safety concerns and how they can be addressed to prevent further accidents. Once these plans have been discussed it is your job as an employer to voice any concerns with employees, letting them know the importance of safety on the premises. This can be done verbally through your Safety Manager or poster information shown throughout the premises.
However, it is not only good enough to verbalise your concerns for safety as you must also be willing to act if necessary. If a safety hazard is identified it is paramount to address the situation immediately in order to correct it. You cannot simply assume that your regular verbalising of the importance of safety will prompt someone to rectify a safety hazard: you must act yourself as otherwise there may be an accident just waiting to happen. If an accident has occurred then you may need legal advice in relation to your responsibility to the injured party and your compliance in not only reporting the matter but also addressing the needs of the injured party.
Finally, you can further involve your employees by asking if they have any suggestions about improving workplace safety or any concerns about current safety hazards. As much as having one safety coordinator is helpful in maintaining safety standards, utilising a handful of eyes and ears will always be the better option.
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