How to Stay Safe at Work
We spend the majority of our lives at work, around 90,000 hours of our lifetime in total! With so much time being spent at work it’s no surprise that our work life spills over and plays an impact on our personal lives. But what if you were to have an accident at work? The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that 1.4 million people suffered a work-related illness in 2018. Avoid being part of the statistics and look after yourself at work, it is better to be safe than sorry. Take a look at our handy information below so you can keep yourself and others safe when working.
It is important that there are precautions in place in your workplace to prevent injury and help prevent serious harm coming to yourself, your colleagues and/or visitors. For example it is a requirement for builders to wear high visibility clothing and a hard hat when working on a building site and nurses are supplied with gloves and aprons to help avoid the risk of infection.
Every workplace will have different safety precautions in place depending on what they deal with on a day to day basis and the environment they are working in. It is important that the employer or appointed health and safety worker carry out a risk assessment, which we will discuss further on, to understand what safety precautions are needed to reduce the risks to the employees.
The HSE recommends that all places of work that have five or more employees should dedicate someone as their first aider to help meet the health and safety duties of the employer. This person does not have to have any formal qualifications but they must be able to have health and safety skills, knowledge and experience to help manage the workplace and its employees to remain safe, whether a minor injury or an emergency should occur.
Should an employee have an accident at work it is vital that the employer seeks immediate help for the said employee. Along with an appointed first aider there should be a suitably stocked first aid kit and information for all the employees to access regarding the first aid arrangements.
The number of first aiders needed in the workplace varies on the size of the company and how dangerous the workplace is, for example working inside an office is relatively low risk in comparison to working on a building site and therefore appropriate risk assessments should be undertaken.
First aid courses are available to everyone across the UK, (accompanied by an adult if under 16) through different training providers such as the British Red Cross and St. John Ambulance. Courses like these ensure the appointed first aider feels confident in performing first aid should they need to within the workplace and also provides them with a first aid qualification.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a risk assessment as “a systematic process of evaluating the potential risks that may be involved in a projected activity or undertaking”. A risk assessment is an important step in protecting workers as it indentifies harm and enforces measures to reduce the risk of a workplace injury.
All workplaces are different and the first aid needs vary on the type of work you do and where the work is carried out. If you think about the dangers office workers face in comparison to builders, the safety needs of employees are dramatically different. To assess the first aid needs your company will need, the HSE states that you must consider the following:
- The type of work you do
- Hazards and the likely risk of them causing harm
- The size of your workforce
- Work patterns of your staff
- Holiday and other absences of those who will be first aiders and appointed persons
- The history of accidents in your business
Off-shore workers, crane drivers, policeman etc., Have a higher risk to obtaining an injury due to potentially using hazardous chemicals, working from heights and using dangerous tools. These kinds of roles often involve a large number of people working in the industry and a higher percentage of workplace accidents in previous years. The risk assessment for an office worker will therefore be significantly lower and involve things such ensuring all electrical goods are checked by a registered electrician annually.
The most dangerous jobs to have in the UK include farming, construction, engineering and waste collection.
A risk assessment should include what could potentially cause harm and to who. It should assess how much of a potential threat something may pose and on evaluation what should be done to decrease the risk of harm and whether the risk can be ruled out all together.
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is something every workplace needs and its contents should be appropriate to fit the needs of the individual company. The NHS includes that a basic first aid kit may contain:
- Plasters in a variety of shapes and sizes.
- Small, medium and large sterile gauze dressings
- X2 sterile eye dressings
- Triangular bandages
- Crepe rolled bandages
- Safety pins
- Disposable sterile gloves
- Alcohol-free cleansing wipes
- Sticky tape
- Skin rash cream
- Insect bite spray
- Antiseptic cream
- Cough medicine
- Distilled water
- Eye wash
The contents of a basic first aid kit should be suitable for low risk jobs but you may find that a first aid kit that is British Standard Compliant (BS 8599-1) may be better suited for a medium or high risk workplace. A British Standard Compliant first aid kit includes:
- F/A guidance leaflet
- Medium sterile dressing
- Large sterile dressing
- Triangular dressing
- Safety pins
- Adhesive dressing
- Eye dressing
- Sterile wet wipes
- Micro-porous tape
- A pair of Nitrile gloves
- Face shield
- Foil blanket
- Burn dressing 10x 10cm
- Clothing shears
- Conforming bandage
- Finger dressing
- Sterile eye wash 250ml
The amount of each of the contents depends on the size of the first aid kit; these come in small, medium, large and a travel size kit.
A first aid kit should be checked regularly, not only to restock and replace used items but many items inside the first aid kit have expiry dates on them, especially the sterile items. Keep the first aid kit in an easily accessible place and ensure that all colleagues know the location of the kit.
HSE Law Poster
It is a legal requirement for all business premises to display the latest version of the HSE Law Poster since 2014. The poster details what your employer must do to ensure their employees safety, what the employee must do to ensure their health and safety needs are met and what steps should be taken if there were a problem. An alternative to a health and safety poster is the Health and Safety Law leaflet which must be distributed to all employees if the poster is not displayed.
All employers with 10 or more employees working for them need to keep an accident book. Any injury, no matter how small should be recorded in this book. For more serious accidents it should be reported to RIDDOR or ‘The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations’. RIDDOR exists to protect employees against irresponsible or negligent employers and helps the HSE keep a record of work-related incidents so that can decrease the risk where possible.
The types of incidents that should be reported to RIDDOR are workplace deaths, injuries that result in an employee being off work for seven or more consecutive days and incidents that require employees being taken to hospital.
Mental Health in the Workplace
Work-related stress can aggravate existing mental health problems and make it more difficult to control. In 2016/17 there were 526,000 cases of work related stress and caused 1 in 5 people to take a day off work. Unsurprisingly, 90% of these people told their employers a different reason for their absence. Suffering with a mental health condition severely impacts an employee’s performance, 80% find it difficult to concentrate at work and 62% admit it takes them longer to do tasks when feeling stressed.
Feeling fulfilled with your work and enjoying seeing your colleagues promotes good mental health and statistically increases employee productivity by as much as 12%. In 2017 the government commissioned Stevenson and Farmer, the Chief Executive of Mind, to review mental health in the workplace and implemented the importance of employers supporting individuals with mental health conditions so that they can help their entire workforce thrive.
If you, a friend or colleague are feeling run down, Mind a mental health charity recommends that you should ask for help, balance your time and reward yourself with achievements to name a few. You can find out more about mental health in the workplace here: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/workplace-mental-health/work-and-stress/#.XVJwnONKgdU
With all aspects of safety in the workplace it is important to communicate well with your employer/ employees and your colleagues. If you notice something is wrong or someone is suffering, the most important thing is to communicate. Good communication between colleagues promotes a healthier workplace both physically and mentally.
Due to the global pandemic there are even more safety protocols that must be carried out to keep not only employees and employers safe but the rest of the world too! Like we have mentioned above it is important to carry out another risk assessment, this time with covid-19 in mind.
Covid-19 Risk Assessment
- Work Activity – does the nature of the job require you or your workers to be in close proximity or situations where there is a risk that transmission of the virus may occur?
- Employees – who is at risk? Are you or others vulnerable and need extra shielding?
- Exposure – how likely is it that you or others in your work place be exposed?
- Control – remove any situations where the risk of the virus could spread.
Covid-19 ‘Safe’ Workplace
It is important that your employers or as an employer that you implement covid-19 safe measures in the workplace. This includes implementing and adhering to social distancing guidelines, ensuring there is a hand washing station and providing hand-sanitiser and PPE where necessary. Your workplace may also benefit from staggering work shifts to limit contact upon arrival and departure or to work from home.
It is important that the workplace is also frequently cleaned, especially in locations that are frequently in use from multiple people including light switches, door handles, phones etc.
Keytek® aims to keep you secure; did you know that we fit security locks on commercial properties also? Our professional Locksmith Engineers can support you to ensure your business and your colleagues are safe at all times when at work. Not only will they update your locks for you when called out but they will also offer you the best security solutions so you remain as safe as can be!