The question is, what does health and safety really mean?
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What is health and safety?
You might be struggling to understand what all the fuss is about health and safety, but it’s actually pretty simple. In a nutshell, it refers to the programs, guidelines, and procedures that are set up to protect the safety, welfare, and health of people in the workplace. That includes employees, customers and clients, visitors, and members of the public - basically, anyone who might come into contact with your business!
Of course, some work environments are more dangerous than others, and it’s impossible to eliminate 100% of risks, but you can do your best to reduce risks to a minimum. Health and safety is about “physiological and psychological” well-being, which means that you care about preventing injury and illness, of course, but you are also compassionate about promoting a healthy and positive outlook for the people you work with.
Why is health and safety important?
Your goal is to create a healthy and safe working environment, and this has some clear benefits. The primary benefit is for the people you want to protect, of course, but it will also keep your business safe and healthy.
As an employer, it is your legal, financial, and moral obligation to take responsibility for health and safety in your organisation. Aside from that, if you take care to reduce the risk of accidents, injuries (including fatalities), and work-related ill-health, you will reduce the costs of sick leave, medical care, litigation, and disability benefits. Look after people because it’s the right thing to do, and you will also save yourself a lot of headaches!
You also care about morale in the workplace. People work better when they feel safe and well-protected. They are more comfortable in their environment, and feel more positively towards an organisation with good oversight. If you want a productive and loyal workplace, and a good reputation as a caring employer, you need to take care of health and safety.
How can you achieve health and safety success?
- Setting up health and safety as a standard practice
- Creating and implementing procedures while looking past the piece of paper
If you make health and safety a standard practice, you can feel confident that you are doing the best by your workplace. All it takes is to make sure you have plenty of information about health and safety systems and procedures, including the relevant courses and training, to make sure you have got everything covered.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to monitor and maintain a healthy working environment, but how much will you need to do? This will probably depend on your line of work and the size of your organisation. Small businesses might only need to take a few standard measures to keep up-to-date with health and safety, while large companies, and work that involves exposure to more hazards, will have more to do.
You will need to know how to set up a risk assessment procedure, to find out what issues are relevant to your working practice. This could related to physical hazards such as structures and equipment, chemicals and biological contaminants, manual handling of loads, and workstations, or how to provide for individuals with specific needs, or how to minimize the psychosocial pressures of the workplace. You should also think about what information you need, and what training you, and people you work with, can take to get the necessary skills and knowledge to achieve safe working practices.
As an employee, you also have a responsibility to comply with regulations, and take necessary precautions to reduce risk. All employees should have some health and safety training, but those working with specific hazards may need to take additional courses. A well-informed employee will be able to respond to the realities of everyday working life with good practice, protecting yourself and those around you.
You are just a few steps away from achieving health and safety competence! You know that it’s important, and there are many benefits in protecting your workplace and the people you work with. All you have to do is get started. The information that you need is right here, and there are lots of accessible and useful courses to start training, so you can feel confident that your workplace is in safe hands.
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