Just like many aspects of the modern workplace, health, safety and wellbeing starts at the very top. Organisations, business owners, managers and other senior employees have an obligation to minimise the risk of accident, injury or ill-health, with the Health and Safety at Work Act asserting they must do everything “reasonably practicable” to ensure the safety of employees and those who may be affected by the employers undertaking.
Although managers will typically place a strong focus on improving worker productivity, morale and absenteeism, many don’t realise the impact health, safety and wellbeing can have on these factors. According to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there were 1.4 million reported cases of work-related ill-health last year alone, resulting in over 30 million lost working days and costing organisations an absolute fortune.
By providing adequate health and safety training and raising awareness of potential dangers and the important of employee wellbeing managers and employees can begin to tackle these alarming rates and create a more positive, supportive working environment and culture.
The Importance of Workplace Health,Safety and Wellbeing
Make no mistake, workplace health, safety and wellbeing matters. Regardless of the organisations, workers are always exposed to certain dangers and risks, and managers are undoubtedly responsible for minimising those hazardous factors and cultural aspects that impact on wellbeing. Whether your team operates in a dangerous construction site or an office or retail environment, health, safety and wellbeing management should always be considered one of your top priorities. Here’s why:
Reduce Accidents and Absenteeism
Although there were almost one and a half million work-related absences last year, under half of these were actually due to workplace accidents, with around 600,000 reported non-fatal injuries in 2017/18. However, these absences are still costing organisations an estimated £5.2 billion every year, and there were an additional 144 fatal injuries within that same timeframe.
For managers, the true frustration lies in the fact that so many of these absences are completely avoidable and can be associated with mental wellbeing. By simply engaging employees you can help them better identify hazards in the workplace, understand better the causes of accidents and ill-health and mental wellbeing..
While workplace injuries are costing organisations just over £5 billion, all cases of work-related ill-health are costing an eye-watering £9.7 billion. The majority of these absences are a result of stress, depression or anxiety or poor wellbeing programmes which is why managers need to take steps towards tackling these issues. After all, reducing these problems won’t only save the organisation substantial amounts of money, it will also help to create a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.
All organisations have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of employees, customers and visitors on their premises or in their operations; while an organisations legal compliance is usually demonstrated by the behaviour and culture of the management team and other senior personnel Under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, inadequate health and safety practises and management controls can result in prosecutions of the organisation and individuals, leading to hefty fines as well as civil claims for compensation.
How Managers Can Improve Awareness
Although employees certainly have their own responsibilities, it’s undoubtedly up to management to ensure these responsibilities are being fulfilled. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to raise awareness of health, safety and wellbeing in the workplace, and ultimately ensure employees can continue to operate safely and their health and wellbeing not be adversely impacted.
Enforce Policy and Record Incidents
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, all organisations have to have a health and safety policy and if they employ five or more employees, they need to produce a written health and safety policy. Although team managers might not be responsible for actually creating this policy, they’re certainly in charge of making sure employees aren’t just aware of it, but also follow it to the letter.
By pro-actively monitoring compliance and reminding employees of the correct procedures, you’ll be showing them how seriously you consider the safety policy and increase the chances of them sticking to it. In addition, you need to make a record of any incidents to help you recognise causes, identify accident trends and take action to prevent a recurrence, while also recording the details of any inspections and risk assessments you’ve carried out.
Train and Communicate with Employees
Employees are typically in the best position to understand the hazards and risks involved with their job. So, by engaging them, communicating with them regularly and listening to their concerns, you can quickly identify hazards and provide a quick, effective solution. Not only will this significantly lower accident, ill-health and absence rates, such effective communication could also help you improve operations and enhance efficiency.
More importantly, if these employees have received effective health and safety training, then this continuous line of communication could prove even more rewarding. An appropriate and relevant training course will show employees how to identify hazards and deal with risks, giving them a much better understanding of workplace dangers and making them more effective at flagging them up.
When you’ve got a team that’s capable of proactively identifying dangers, you’ll be able to cultivate a much stronger health and safety culture and improve wellbeing.