Accidents occur in the workplace every day in the UK. Every year, in excess of 150,000 work-related injuries are reported across the country. Over two million individuals are believed to suffer ill health resulting from their employment, and 250 people die in the workplace each year.
The majority of workplace incidents can be prevented through Health & Safety law compliance. Through sending employees on health and safety training courses, a small business can protect itself and its employees, potentially saving thousands of pounds each year through a reduction in insurance claims and premiums and losing fewer working hours. It could also boost staff morale and productivity.
Accidents at work can happen at anytime and anywhere, and so all small businesses should be fully prepared.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 forms the basis of Health & Safety legislation. Under this legislation, employers must “so far as is reasonably practicable” safeguard the health, safety and welfare of employees in the workplace.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, small business owners are required to assess risks to employees in the workplace. The regulations require small business owners to identify the measures required to adhere to Health & Safety laws and to appoint capable individuals to aid them in taking the appropriate measures. Directors and managers of all small business can be held responsible for their failure to abide by Health & Safety legislation.
Employers with a minimum of five staff members must have a written health and safety policy, and all employers must provide Health & Safety training to their staff.
Types of Workplace Injuries
Workplace injuries can be caused by a single, traumatic incident or may build up over a period of time. Common non-traumatic injuries sustained in the workplace include: lower back pain, caused by poor lifting techniques or sustained bad postures; repetitive strain injury (RSI), caused by repetitive movements, such as the prolonged use of computer keyboards; headaches and neck aches, caused by poor posture and incorrect VDU positioning; and carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by repeated activities that put pressure on the nerve in the wrist, including work on production lines and prolonged computer use.
Ways to Train Staff
Health & Safety does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. Small business owners must ensure that their employees are adequately trained in Health & Safety procedures and are capable of spotting hazards and understanding the ways in which to prevent or minimise risks to themselves and to others. Posters prove an effective yet affordable way in which to communicate risks, with some safety notices being required by law. Employers can send their staff on health and safety training courses or take advantage of in-company training. Training courses can be adapted to the needs of small businesses, and staff can take extensive courses to minimise the impact their training has on their other workplace responsibilities.
The Cost of Workplace Accidents
It is essential for small business owners to note that their accident insurance will typically only cover a proportion of accident costs. Costs that fail to be covered may include: sickness pay, temporary labour, damages to materials, equipment repairs, temporary staff wages, fines for breaching legislation and investigation time.