Health and safety in the workplace
Health and safety is the key factor for all industries in order to promote the wellness of both employers and employees. The overall safety of a workplace is very important for each and every employee in the industry as workers desire to work in an environment which provides safety and comfort. It is a duty and moral responsibility of every company to look after each employee. In the workplace, health and safety may seem too obvious to need explaining but with the legal attachment’s to businesses of any size and the impending Brexit, things are not as simple as they seem.
Small and large businesses
Under UK law it’s the employer’s responsibility to protect the health and safety of not just employees but also anyone who might be affected by the business such as customers and visitors. The law does recognize that 100 per cent protection is not viable for any company. Under the workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) regulations 1992, employers have a legal duty which ensures the health, safety and welfare at work of employees – as much as reasonably practical.
The question many have now is how the UK’s health and safety landscape will change post-Brexit as the majority of UK health and safety regulations introduced over the past 30 years originated from the European Union. With Britain facing EU withdrawal very soon – what happens now? It is vital to remember that no matter how big or small the business, the basic principles require employers to evaluate, avoid and reduce workplace risks in consultation with their workforce.
As a small and low risk business, measures are still needed. As you are held responsible for the health and safety of everyone in your business – visitors, consumers, public, you must take steps to comply with the law. This includes compiling a health and safety policy and undertaking a risk assessment in which you identify and take measures to offset potential hazards to health and safety within your business. You must also have employers’ liability insurance to comply with the law with the only exception being family businesses in which all employees are also close relatives.
Dangers of ignorance
If your business is on the smaller scale, it is never a good idea to dismiss health and safety, get it wrong the consequences can be expensive and long term. No matter how small your company, human loss or injuries is immeasurable and intolerable. Each industry poses safety risks in which management should devote their time to think and strategise what safety precautions are required in their companies to ensure employees feel content. Workplace stress is hazardous to the wellbeing of staff, long working hours, work-pressure and conflicts are prime reasons which lead to an illness or depression. Instead of waiting for signs like this to appear in your employees, take better care of their health by providing regular breaks, offer free fruit to compensate a healthy lifestyle and offer wellness treats such as morning yoga. It will be beneficial to your entire workplace if you schedule your workplace accordingly and manage elements which can cause stress.
Filling the skills gap
A radical overhaul of the skills system across the UK is needed if businesses avoid the negative effects of Brexit. There is little doubt that the skills base in the UK needs strengthening skills gap in key sectors such as construction. In a bid to mark on closing the skills gap in a small business, it is beneficial to employ all employers with a form of health and safety training. If you think that you have health and safety gaps among your workforce there a few things you can do. First identify the reason for gaps – is this due to low staff retention or the training standard for new starters not high enough? Focus on the main reasons to ensure the issue doesn’t resurface. The quickest and effective way to fill any skills gaps is to organise high quality face-to-face training to meet workers’ needs. When implementing the sessions don’t limit on the training for smaller groups or even individual needs. If an employer has a knowledge gap to fill in regard to health and safety, then it must be addressed.
Online training can be an option by signing employees up for refresher training on key health and safety, even a simple feature like a multiple-choice quiz will keep health and safety in the forefronts of their minds and show them where their knowledge gaps are residing whilst also highlighting the gaps to the you.
Going forward, encourage all employees at all levels to speak up and ask questions. By creating an environment in which speaking up is encouraged, the skills gaps won’t stay unnoticed. Learning sessions which are accompanied by an open floor question session will highlight areas of focus.
On the basis of what has been said so far, it does appear that in the short-term Brexit will have little impact on the health and safety laws of Britain, particularly as the EU Withdraw Bill intends to incorporate all EU legislation in the UK law to ensure a ‘calm’ exit but do watch this space.