HR & Management

Preventing workplace injuries in small businesses

5 min read

06 October 2016

From tripping over exposed cables to slipping on wet flooring, some of the most common office injuries are largely preventable. It’s important to ensure your office space is safe, and that everyone is on the same page when it comes to health.

To avoid any injuries, which may cause large amounts of pain, stress or grievance to an employee, there are a number of practices you can put into place. This will also prevent the financial implications for a business from personal injury claims.

Assess the office

The first step you should take is to assess the workspace and locate any potential hazards or accident hotspots. This should include not just the office space but external areas such as the kitchen and bathroom(s). Look out for things like loose or exposed cables, uneven carpet or flooring, and any unnecessary obstructions in pathways. And even after a full inspection has been done, it’s important to keep an eye out for developing hazards.

Encourage staff members to speak up if they spot something that doesn’t seem safe as many office accidents are the result of general wear-and-tear or a lack of vigilance. Even with an open-door policy, some team members might not feel comfortable directly approaching you with an issue, so you could set up an anonymous suggestion box to help tackle complications before they escalate. Having a few friendly reminders dotted about the office won’t go amiss either.

It works both ways though – as the boss you should always remain open and foster communication with your staff, reporting to them if you spot any issues yourself. A simple email to say the kitchen floor is slippy, for example, goes a long way (as does putting out “wet floor” signs). You should also assure your team the issue will be addressed quickly, in order to build trust and confidence.

Why health and safety is a hot topic for UK businesses right now

Train staff

As well as encouraging staff to notify you of any potential problems, it’s a good idea to provide basic health and safety training. Every workplace requires a fully-stocked first aid kit and at least one qualified first-aider too, so if none of your employees hold this certificate, you need to arrange and pay for an employee to take the course.

Alongside the professional health and safety legislation, you should set up your own tailored practices when it comes to responding to emergencies and accidents. For example, all your staff should know the following:

● What to do and where to go in a fire drill ( emergency drills should be held regularly to recap);
● Where to locate the first aid box;
● Who the qualified first aider is; and
● How to report an accident or potential hazard.

Be aware of changing legislation

Health and safety legislation changes all the time, so it is essential to keep up to date with procedures, the required general practices, and legal terms. Familiarise yourself with legal precedent and injury claims more broadly to give you a better understanding of how to respond if an employee suffers an accident or injury. With new situations arising – which require a new set of legal practices – you may find that you discover a hazard in the workplace that has not been addressed before. Therefore, being alert and resolving issues quickly and efficiently as they happen is key to preventing accidents and safeguarding your staff.

Monitoring the health and safety of your workspace and employees is a big responsibility, and it is essential that you treat the matter with the utmost professionalism and diligence. Maintaining an open and communicative policy and responding quickly to issues will help to set employees at ease and keep the workplace safe.

This article is written by Slater Heelis, a Manchester-based law firm providing both corporate law and private individual law services, across many different sectors.

Image: Shutterstock