The Importance of Safety in the Workplace

In the UK, employers have a legal duty to provide a safe working environment. What this means in practice will tend to depend on the business in question. In some cases, you’ll be guarding against acute physical threats, like falling objects and trailing cables; in others, you’ll be dealing with long-term ones, like the chronic back pain that comes with sitting at a computer for long periods.

The workplace and safety

According to RIDDOR statistics presented by the Health and Safety Executive, there were around 61,713 injuries to employees reported in the financial year 21/22. This contrasts with the much higher figure of 565,000 collected by the Labour Force Survey.

We should bear in mind the differences between how these figures are collected. The former is based on reports from actual workplaces, while the latter is an extrapolation from a smaller group of surveyed workers. But since not all accidents and injuries are reported, we might get results from the LFS that weren’t logged at work.

The UK enjoys a very low rate of fatal injuries, compared to other developed European nations. In the UK, there are 0.6 fatalities per hundred thousand workers per annum. In Spain, the figure is higher at 1.49; in France, it’s way up to more than 3.

Making sure your business has a robust health and safety policy

So, how can we ensure that our workplaces are as safe as possible? To do it effectively, it’s essential that we take full advantage of the most powerful piece of safety equipment on any given site: the brains of the workers themselves.

Your health and safety policy should mandate certain practices and forbid others. It should be regularly updated to reflect the changing pressures that your business is dealing with.

Conducting a risk assessment

At the start of your efforts should come a risk assessment. You should conduct these regularly, record the findings, and implement them. Having a specialist third-party come in to look for trouble might be valuable, too.

Providing the correct PPE

Of critical importance in some environments is the personal protective equipment that your employees might be wearing. You might think of heavy boots, hard hats and gloves for construction workers. In a food-safety or medical context, facemasks might serve an essential purpose, too.

Training your employees on safety and using their PPE correctly

Naturally, it’s not sufficient to just provide your employees with the necessary equipment. They also need the knowledge to use it properly. This might mean providing regular short training sessions. But you should also think about looking proactively for non-adherence. If employees aren’t aware that they aren’t using the equipment properly, then they might actually put themselves at greater risk than if they weren’t wearing safety equipment at all.