The days of deference are well and truly over and whilst a few generations ago staff were willing to put up with unsafe or unhealthy conditions, these days putting your employees at risk can completely ruin your business.
A serious accident can mean a huge compensation pay out or even a criminal conviction, but smaller seeming issues can leave companies with a large price to pay if they don’t address them properly.
If you’re a company owner or you manage staff, take a look at these workplace health and safety issues which you shouldn’t ignore.
1. Blowing Hot and Cold
There is no official law regarding the minimum temperature that people can generally work at
, but the health and Safety Executive (HSE) does specify that workroom temperatures should be 13°C if the work is particularly physical and 16°C if it isn’t. The HSE says that workers should be able to carry out their jobs comfortably without the need to wear special clothing. So if your place of work is an ice box in winter and an oven in summer, you could run the risk of getting a serious complaint from staff.
2. Cramped Conditions
Squeezing too many people into a workplace will not only make it an unpleasant environment to be in but could also pose a danger. Injury and death is far more likely to be caused in over capacity buildings in the event of a fire, for example. To calculate whether your workspace meets HSE standards the volume of your space divided by the number of staff who work in it should be 11 cubic metres or more.
3. Lighten Up
dictates that workspaces are adequately lit in order for employees to carry out tasks. This means that you can regulate light in different parts of your building. For example corridors don’t need to be as brightly lit as offices. It’s also a good idea to give staff control over light for example by allowing desk lamps.
4. Vibration and Noise
Noise can increase stress levels as well as being physically damaging so if your work environment is particularly noisy you must protect your staff appropriately. If the noise is sufficient staff should wear ear protectors. In addition, body vibration which can be caused by close contact with large machinery or when driving vehicles, can cause vision problems and back pain.
5. Taking a Break
According to the law workplace toilets must be clean, securable from the inside, well-ventilated and accessible, but it’s also essential to ensure you have enough toilet
facilities for your employees. If you have less than 6 staff then one toilet is acceptable but any more than that and by law you should have two or more toilets. In addition, there should be an equal number of sinks and clean drinking water available. If your staff are required to wear special clothing such as protective gear then they should be provided with an appropriate place to change. They should also be provided with an area to rest and eat.
6. Health and Safety
According to the health and Safety regulations set out for first aid in the workplace appropriate first aid equipment should always be provided so that immediate help can be administered in an employee is injured or falls ill. A first aid officer should also be employed who is in charge of maintaining first aid equipment and administering treatment as necessary. In the UK, all public places and workplaces are
smoke free unless they’ve been otherwise delegated which means staff can only smoke if official smoking areas.
John Hinds writes for Lojix. His interests include blogging, reading, playing tennis, listening to music and traveling.