Work accidents can happen for a number of different reasons, but they often stem from a failure in health and safety practice somewhere along the line. For example, if new employees are not made aware of the dangers of the job, or if safety procedures are not properly implemented and maintained across the workplace.
There is good reason for employers to be aware of the potential dangers and vigilant in carrying out health and safety duties towards employees. According to RoSPA, Every year there are a reported 36 million working days lost and around 350 fatalities as a result of accidents at work in the UK. Employers are required to carry out certain responsibilities - these were set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA).
All workplaces have their own particular dangers, the most common of all being slips and strips at around 42 per cent of all injuries to employees, with stress-related illness accounting for 20 per cent of occupational ill health. There are a number of prevention measures which apply to all workplaces in the UK. Here is a simple 5-point checklist for employers to ensure they are doing all they can to prevent accidents at work.
Relevant health and safety training must be implemented in all workplaces. The training might include instruction on issues such as the need to use protective clothing where required, how to lift heavy items and how to operate machinery to prevent work accidents. The employer has to alert workers to potential dangers and take practical steps to reduce the risk of work accidents occurring.
2. Maintaining Safe Work Systems
Employers have a duty to maintain safe working systems across the workplace. They must remove health and safety risks where they can and implement and maintain safety procedures for potential risks such as handling dangerous substances. All hazards should be identified and documented, and safety precautions implemented wherever possible.
3. Maintaining a Safe Working Environment
The working environment must be made free from hazards which could lead to work accidents, for example ensuring safe access and exits are available for staff at all times. They must also provide any specific facilities which are necessary for the welfare of employees.
4. Speaking with Safety Representatives
Employers must consult all staff on any health and safety issues faced in the workplace. They can do so either directly with employees or via safety representatives. The safety representatives themselves need to relate any safety concerns raised by employees to the employer. If two safety representatives ask for it, a 'health and safety committee' must be established in order to observe the health and safety practices within the organisation.
5. Statement of Health and Safety Policy
Organisations with five or more employees need to have a written Statement of Health and Safety Policy with written details of the company's health and safety practices, which are revised when changes are made. If the organisation has less than five employees there does not need to be a Statement of Health and Safety Policy, although these employers must still provide health and safety training for the prevention of accidents at work.