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Health and Safety in the Workplace

ST & L|28/03/2023

Whether an office or a worksite, every place of employment has a level of risk to health and safety. These risks can include dangerous chemicals, unsafe equipment, and improper storage techniques. Every employer must ensure that health & safety in the workplace is well managed and monitored. You must protect the physical, mental, and social well-being of every employee. All procedures and processes in the workplace must conform to the Health and Safety at Work Act of 2015. Therefore, here is our guide to maintaining health & safety in the workplace.

Employer Duties in Providing a Safe Work Environment

All employers are legally required to ensure their workplaces are safe and healthy for all employees, customers, and visitors. Employer responsibilities for maintaining health & safety in the workplace include:

  • Design and maintain workplaces that are safe and hazard-free.
  • Identify any hazards and either remove them or reduce the risk.
  • Develop and implement safe working practices.
  • Implement measures to prevent bullying and harassment.
  • Provide protective clothing and warning signs where needed.
  • Provide training for employees so they can respond to emergencies and use first aid equipment.
  • Report any injuries or accidents and keep detailed records of incidents.

Employee Rights and Responsibilities

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act of 2015, all employees have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. Employees rights at work include:

  • Any risk to their health and safety must be effectively dealt with.
  • Employers must provide all protective and safety equipment free of charge.
  • They must be able to leave their work area if they feel unsafe.
  • They must be able to report concerns to their employer or appropriate authorities.
  • To have safety representatives involved when consulting with their employer.

Employees responsibilities at work include:

  • Taking action to protect their own health & safety in the workplace.
  • Taking care not to put others at risk.
  • Participating in appropriate training.
  • Adhering to the workplace’s health and safety policies.
  • Using personal protective equipment as required.
  • Reporting any injuries, illnesses, or strains incurred as a result of work.
  • Reporting any pre-existing health issues so that the employer can make the appropriate adjustments.

Common Health and Safety Issues in the Workplace

Space – Employees need sufficient space to work safely and effectively. The minimum flooring space should be 4.65 square metres per person, although the more space the better.

Temperature – Ambient workplace temperature should be kept between 16 and 27°C to ensure maximum comfort and safety.

Ventilation – Windows and other openings are necessary for the health of employees. If you have air conditioning, this should be regularly maintained.

Natural Light – There should be enough lighting to work and move around safely. If natural light is low, artificial lighting must compensate for this.

Regular Breaks – To avoid eye strain, employees should be encouraged to take regular breaks from their workstations at least once per hour.

Manual Handling – Guidelines on the manual handling of equipment should be clearly visible and communicated to employees.

Fire – Clear evacuation procedures must be in place and employees must be made aware of them. Carrying out regular fire drills should be a priority for the safety of all employees.

Slips and Trip Hazards – These include wet floors, uneven surfaces, loose cables, and poor lighting. If a fall occurs, the employee should report the incident, seek medical attention if required, and ensure the removal of the hazard.

Stress – An employee may feel overwhelmed at work, leading to physical, mental, and behavioural issues. Employers should be aware of stress-related symptoms and try to minimise any stressful situations.

Bullying and Harassment – Employers need to create a safe working environment for all staff. They should ensure all employees are behaving responsibly towards each other.

Here at ST&L, we can review your workplace’s health and safety measures and advise you on any improvements. To find out more about our workplace health assessments, please get in touch with us today.