HR has a responsibility to play an important role in Health and Safety in the work place, which helps maintain a safe and comfortable working environment for employees. Ensuring safety is of course paramount, it could be a life and death situation, but also on a daily basis staff need to feel secure while working to be as productive as possible when performing their duties. On a physical level thousands of minor workplace injuries a year require physiotherapy, at worst nerve damage can be implicated which in rare cases can be debilitating. On a mental level a number of illnesses and disorders can develop which means work takes a backseat for the individual. Careful consideration must be taken by any type of manager, here are some tips or practices for both management and senior management, that you can implement to improve safety in your work place;
Communication – Maintain effective communication with your staff at all times, this is crucial when maintaining health and safety, or finding out about possible issues. Employees should have no fears about bringing up issues or whether they will be taken care of by management. Your supervisors should have excellent communication, accessibility and interaction with staff within each department of your company. When hiring human resources supervisors make sure that they have a realisation of the importance of safety, rather than going to a direct manager staff may feel more comfortable going to HR. Make use of company intranet and emails for such things as contagious flu or weather hazards for travelling to work.
Safety policies – Strict safety policies should always be in place; particularly in areas such as construction or engineering when work can be precarious. Employees not permitted to be in these hazardous areas, either through qualification or seniority, shouldn’t enter them under any circumstances. There should always be warning signs and labels in high risk sections. In less risky work places any potential hazards should be identified early, dangerous mishaps like broken glass or leaks should be dealt with immediately. An accident book or log is also a must, dating the time and date of any accident so it is recorded for reference in future.
Talk to Facility management – Whoever is in charge of providing certain amenities in the work place should be informed about requirements they need to meet, notified of changes that should be made and generally kept up to date with what’s happening at their building. Safety and hygiene wise they are normally expected to supply you with the right resources. You need to co-ordinate with them and work as a team.
Training for staff – Health and safety training is a must for any department of your business and all employees must receive it, including basic first aid. First aid kits, fire extinguishers and emergency action plans have to legally be provided, ensure you are doing that for your workforce. Fire drills can help staff practice these methods, but make sure it is taken seriously and include plenty of active engagement from employees, everyone must maintain responsibility. Encourage employees to take sick time off when they need to and not to come in sick due to being over worked or have fears of being in trouble, as it has a negative effect on productivity and could also spread illness around the office.
Reduce staff stress – As well as potential physical safety dangers for employees, you also have to look after the mental health of employees. Employees can file stress related claims due to conditions such as anxiety, so HR must always be monitoring the mental health and wellbeing of staff. As an employer you must be aware of any pre-existing conditions or matters in their personal life your staff have or if you’re putting too much pressure on them at a certain time when issues could develop or re-surface.
The long term reasons
It is always good to set goals and commit to improving your workplace health and safety, development is sure to follow if you make this effort. With high safety standards in place a company will not just protect its employees but guard against financial costs of not having the legally correct procedures in place. Businesses lose thousands a year because of compensation costs to injured employees, nearly all of which would have been easily avoidable if the right measures were taken originally. Job satisfaction is linked closely to a good company culture and every top company takes care of its employees and meets their basic human needs, safety being the most important one.
If you need advice or have any queries regarding your companies HR department policies and practice, please contact HPC on this website.