How SMEs are Navigating Safety in the Workplace

SME Workplace

The success of every business is built upon its employees. Therefore, protecting the health and safety of every employee should be a priority for every company. However, promoting health and safety is not always easy, especially for small businesses. 

If employees get sick, this can lead to higher absence rates resulting in a significant decrease in productivity. And if any employee gets injured on the job, the company could face substantial financial impacts, including hefty fines, worker’s compensation payments, and even lawsuits. These costs can be significantly devastating, especially for SMEs. 

Taking the necessary steps to promote health and safety at work will help businesses avoid negative consequences and encourage happier and more engaged employees. Here’s how SME’s can navigate safety in the workplace.

1. Risk Assessing Fire Safety 

You are responsible for fire safety within your business premises as an employer. Therefore, you should carry out a fire risk assessment and regularly review it. Once you have identified any risks, make sure to address them immediately. Always have appropriate fire safety measures in place and make sure your staff is aware of the fire safety instruction and have the proper training for fire safety.

The importance of fire safety in the workplace must not be overlooked, especially for those areas surrounded by materials that could easily ignite a fire. Educating staff is essential in the overall goal for fire safety in the workplace. However, coming up with a fire prevention plan is even more critical. The plan should include a specific description of each staff’s responsibilities in identifying fire hazards and preventing workplace fires. Remember that fire safety preparation, education, and training is only a small price to pay compared to the financial losses that fire can bring. Also, you could be fined or go to jail if you do not implement proper fire safety regulations in your business premises.

2. Maintaining Safety-Critical System Standards 

The Safety-Critical System Standards refer to the process of identifying, preventing, controlling, and mitigating the unintended release of hazardous materials, which could potentially lead to serious incidents, such as fire, mass injuries, explosions, and fatality. One of the key components to achieving a successful safety-critical system is creating and maintaining barriers to prevent the release of hazardous materials and mitigate its damaging effects on employees, assets, and the environment. Employing software engineers that could implement effective safety-critical system standards is also essential.

If your business is in the field of medical, automotive, or military, it’s more important than ever that you have Safety-Critical System Standards in place. With careful safety critical recruitment, electronics engineers can develop bespoke software solutions for the process safety management of your business while adhering to the protocols set for these critical industries.

3. Understanding COSHH

Depending on the type of business you are in, you probably have heard about COSHH several times before. It is a law requiring employees to control those materials and substances that are hazardous to health. The law protects workers working with dangerous substances and materials. Failure to comply with the COSHH regulations is punishable by law.

Simply put, COSHH was introduced to control employees’ exposure to hazardous substances. As an employer, you should be able to carry out a COSHH assessment that focuses on the hazards and risks from substances within the workplace and ask questions like which areas in the workplace have the potential for exposure to dangerous substances and in what way are these substances harmful to health.

The “substances” referred to the COSHH includes any hazardous materials, including solids, liquids, dust, fumes, vapours, fibres, and biological agents like bacteria and viruses. Meanwhile, the term “hazardous” could refer to something that could damage the skin, nose, lungs, mouth, eyes, and central nervous system with a risk of injury resulting from explosion or combustion.

4. Training to Save a Life 

Every employer is responsible for their employee’s safety in the workplace. One of the best ways to ensure employee safety and save lives in the workplace is to provide first aid training to staff. Having employees undergo training to save lives will benefit them and you as the employer as well. Remember, you could face a potential lawsuit for injuries that happen on your business premises.

There are training courses online dedicated to saving lives, with some of them being offered for free. These courses will teach employees how to handle emergencies in the workplace and cover sections regarding CPR, bleeding, choking, and stroke.

During an emergency, trained employees can respond immediately, which saves lives. Since they are trained in first aid, they will know the proper steps during an emergency, thanks to increased confidence and preparation. The training also helps employees be more conscious of workplace safety, reducing the number of accidents and injuries in the workplace, which benefits everyone, especially employers. Remember, any form of workplace accident has implications in all aspects of business operations.

5. Safety When Working from Home 

As the employer, you are responsible for the safety of all your employees, including those working from home. Although the risks to employees working from home are low, you still have to undergo risk assessment, including assessing their mental health, checking their work environment, and encouraging them to work with display screen equipment.  

Employers should take time to communicate with workers regarding their arrangements since working from home cannot work for everyone. For instance, some employees may not have the appropriate place for working or would prefer to come to the office for mental health, well-being, and other reasons.

Make sure to maintain a balanced and proportionate approach for your employees working from home. In most cases, you do not necessarily need to see them in person to ensure their health and safety. You just need to make sure that they have done certified online health and safety courses that give instruction on how to maintain a safe and healthy environment to work in. There may be instances that you need to visit them to check if they meet a special work requirement, such as those workers with a disability. Also, if the work requires employees to deal with significant hazards such as chemicals and other dangerous tools, you may need to visit their place and assess if it’s safe enough to conduct this work activity.

Akeela Zahair

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