Workplace Safety Training
Work takes up a huge chunk of our time and daily life. On average we spend between 40 and 60 hours of our week in the office or within workplace settings. This is an inordinately long amount of time to be in a specific area, which means taking extra caution regarding the safety of the place is crucial.
Few of us think of the hazards that accrue from our use and utilisation of various tools and aspects of the workplace setting. The nature of hazards are different depending on workplaces in which workshops and yards present more hazards and potentially injurious spaces than your typical modern downtown offices.
Even then the size of an office, the materials used to design it, the type of furniture and the spacing, the ventilation and fire escape routes and various other factors constitute potential hazards.
Some of the most common potential dangers include fire risks, trip hazards, falling from heights, electrocution and stored hazardous substances. It is impossible to eliminate all hazards from a particular work environment; some hazards can merely be managed or contained but not fully eradicated.
The training of employees on the occupational risks associated with the office setting and the nature of the risks for the work they do is a simple yet effective method of minimising loses which accrue from the existence of these hazards.
Why is Health and Safety Training So Necessary?
Safety training is crucial for a number of reasons. First it equips the employees to recognize and minimise the hazards they expose themselves to in a workplace setting.
Secondly it reduces the risks of an actual occurrence of injuries which in turn saves the company's resources in terms of time and finances needed for compensation and health treatment.
Thirdly in the event of a disaster the employees are equipped on how to react and contain the extent of damage inflicted by the hazard on themselves, fellow employees and the firm's premises.
Fourthly, some of the best safety training courses in the market come with accreditation and certifications that are recognised by a number of national institutions. NEBOSH qualifications like a NEBOSH Diploma or the NEBOSH General Certificate are accepted by a number of universities as entry criteria for degree courses and post-graduate study for instance.
Fifthly, safety training for employees boosts their resume and profiles and grants them greater opportunity for career advancement, especially when they are keen on pursuing safety related careers. This is why many individuals choose to enrol and pay for health and safety courses themselves if they are out of work or find that their manager will not pay for them to undertake the study, as gaining such a qualification significantly increases their appeal to prospective and current employers.
Finally, the training equips your employees with skills that they can apply in different contexts and situations including at homes, day-to-day activities in the office and on the road to identify and deal with hazards.
Engaging the training of experienced safety training firms and instructors who offer a wide range of training courses on safety issues could be the difference between creating a safe workplace and paying out millions in damages and fines every year for preventable hazards and accidents, not to mention falling foul of your legal responsibilities.
Workplace Essentials: Why Health and Safety is Important
Your workplace can be a very dangerous place depending on the type of work you are doing. About 200 people are killed in accidents at work and almost one million individuals are injured. Moreover, more than 2 million people suffer illnesses that are caused or aggravated by the work they do.
Due to the risks, it is essential to provide health and safety information as well as training at your workplace as this can help you in:
- Ensuring that you and your employees are not injured or made ill due to the work they are conducting or the working environment they operate within
- Find out how employees can manage their safety and health better
- Develop a safety culture and a positive heath environment where your safe and healthy working conditions become second nature
In addition, effective training can also help you to provide the following:
- It will really help in making your employees competent with respect to safety and health
- It can assist you in avoiding the financial costs that are a consequence of accidents and ill health
- It can also help businesses avoid the usual distress that is involved in ill health and accidents
Since your insurance will not cover all the losses, it is therefore vital to ensure the health and safety of employees.
What is Training and Why Provide It?
Training employees means helping people to learn to do something. It will inform people what they should do and it will provide them with information regarding how to manage something better.
Employees are the greatest assets of the workplace and you have to assist them in helping them achieve your business objectives along with meeting your moral and legal obligations in rendering a safe and healthy environment at work. In order to get the best from every single one of your employees, it is of utmost importance that you provide training to them in all aspects of work including the issue of safety and health. Training is a great way for employees to acquire new knowledge and skills and to refresh good workplace practices. This can cause a huge change in the work place behavior. Therefore, investing in effective employee training will improve the knowledge, productivity and skills of employees.
Employers should provide training to employees on the following key areas (as well as others):
- The nature of the hazards
- Safety procedures
- Use, storage, fit and testing of the personal protective equipment
- Processes used for risk control, hazard identification and risk assessment
While there are many workplace hazards that a person can find themselves getting caught up in, some of the most common types are:
Physical hazards are they which can be touched and include frayed electrical cords, exposed moving parts and other dangers from machinery etc. Most incidents in the workplace occur due to using machinery and tools incorrectly or without authority. Operating at unsafe speeds can also cause you to violate safe work practices. In addition, overloading, crowding or failing to balance the materials is another thing that causes you to cause an injury to yourself or others.
These occur when the type of work that you do, or your body or working position puts a great strain on your body. These hazards are difficult to identify as often the harm that may have incurred is done over a long period of time and only causes problems in later life (e.g. back trouble or worsened arthritis). Frequent lifting, awkward movements or repetitive actions all come under the sphere of manual handling, and their prevalence results in manual handling injuries being one of the leading causes of staff absenteeism from the workplace through ill-health.
In factories for example, it's very common for workers to suffer from repetitive strain injuries. This is caused by the same motion being done over and over again. In this case, to ensure workplace health and safety, employees should be allowed to take several breaks, stretching and flexing their bodies every time. Manual handling training can instruct individuals on the correct ways to lift and move heavy and/or awkward loads, which will reduce the number of manual handling injuries in the workplace.
Biological hazards at work come from working with people, infectious animals or plant materials. Examples are bacteria, viruses, insect bites, animal droppings etc. The range of consequences from biological hazards range from very mild symptoms right through to virtually instant death.
One of the growing dangers in the workplace is that as companies begin to rely on chemicals in everyday life, there's an increased likelihood that these chemicals will injure the workers. And these dangers can come in numerous forms. Examples include carbon monoxide or other similar gases, vapors, fumes, gasoline, liquids and solvents. Sometimes these chemicals can even lead to other hazards like fires. Tens of thousands of fires are put out every year in businesses, causing property damage, injuries, and loss of life.
Thankfully, there are several things that can be done to prevent chemical and fire injuries where it is not reasonably practical to eliminate the hazard altogether. Proper safety gear and protective equipment should be worn at all times when working with chemicals, including eye protectors and gloves. Workplaces should give in depth fire safety talks, showing where the fire extinguishers are and explaining the different escape routes. To make sure these lessons have truly been learned, drills should be done now and then to keep employees alert.
Construction Site Dangers
One of the most common places to see workplace injuries is on construction sites. There are many dangers in these areas, from electrical to falling objects and tripping. In workplaces like a construction site, there is no such thing as too much health and safety training. In fact, most researchers suggest going over safety guidelines every morning with the construction crew so that they stay fresh in the workers' minds. Making sure these workers have been suitably trained and are aware of the dangers of the workplace will decrease workplace injuries.
If someone at the workplace has been in an accident, it is important for you to not just leave them. You should:
- Always check for any dangers for yourself or others before you assist the victim
- Raise the alarm and try to seek medical assistance
- Take the appropriate action, which will be dependent upon you having received the correct and thorough health and safety training beforehand, as different incidents require vastly differing treatments. Performing the wrong action even with the best of intentions can sometimes make the situation far worse.
If proper care is not taken at work, employees risk putting themselves into major dangers which in effect will cause them to get involved in accidents that will obviously not have a good impact on them or their families. In case of an accident, employees can risk losing a limb, suffering scarring or suffering other physical damage. In addition, they may also permanently injure themselves.
All of these outcomes will affect the families and loved ones of the employees. There are so many employees who are the main breadwinners of their families. They are the ones who are doing the earning for their households and if they are the ones who get injured chances are that families will end up suffering financially. Moreover, even if the injury is minor, there are medical and other costs involved that may cause a lot of hardship for families.
Therefore in a nutshell, if employees are not trained, they can risk getting into a lot of hazards and accidents that may risk them losing their health or lives forever. Not only are their legal and moral responsibilities expected of management, but there are also financial gains to be had through having a workforce which is thoroughly training in avoiding accidents and incidents at work.
6 Workplace Hazards and How to Stop Them
While there are often tens, sometimes hundreds, of hazards in a typical workplace, there are a few that usually have higher frequencies of occurrence. When you narrow down the types of hazards there are a few risks that, depending upon the nature of a business, workers are more predisposed to. As an employee, as well as embracing all health and safety training that is given, always seek to learn the most common hazards in your firm and how they impact how you work.
When a business lacks good building materials and has poorly designed fire safety systems it is far more likely to suffer fire accidents. It is always important to watch out for flammable content and sources of ignition. Fire is one of the most destructive hazards a company can ever encounter, meaning that it is vital to build proper fire safety structures as well as installing working fire alarms and fire extinguishers. Health and safety managers who hold a NEBOSH Fire Certificate will be in a far better position to identify fire hazards and introduce remedial measures before a fire breaks out.
Slips, trips, and falls
Having uneven surfaces, wet floors, loose cables, leaking taps and poorly marked sites predisposes the employees to tripping. Falls and tripping are the most common workplaces hazards, often with low risk but high frequency and they cost companies a lot of cumulative costs. It is always vital to walk through the company every so often and highlight the potential hazardous surfaces.
Any "live" wires, broken switches and overloaded circuits can fatally harm people, either directly, or indirectly through some sort of conducting object or material. Electrical accidents most often tend to be fatal or leave the victim severely or permanent injured. The most tragic part of electrical hazards which cause such damage is that most of the time they are easy to minimise or even eliminate all together through simple common sense and good health and safety practices such as not using equipment with damaged power cables.
Working in confined spaces
Working in silos, tanks, chambers, pits, sewers and trenches creates unique risks to workers. The use of paints, welding equipment and chemicals can amplify the risk of poisoning, fumes, lack of oxygen and heat in such cramped and confined spaces. No workers should have to work in such environments without proper training and safety clothing, and other safeguards such as not working alone will further decrease the potential for serious incidents to occur.
Loud noises in the work space can lead to permanent damage to your hearing. Most often hearing loss is progressive, when you work in noisy spaces over many days/weeks/months/years. It is always important for a company to provide quality ear protection when employees work around loud machinery, or when working with explosives, cartridge tools, or gunfire.
Most cleaning products, fuels and fluid agents we use in the workplace have toxic levels of chemical components. Some of them are easily flammable while other can scar our skin or get into the bloodstream when inhaled or ingested. Conducting safety training on the potency of the chemical substances that are regularly used could go a long way in reducing incidences of injuries, illnesses and damage attributable to harmful chemicals.
Workplace Safety Tips
Most often when we design workplaces, attention goes more to cost and convenience sometimes at the expense of safety. Yet the cost of accommodating and putting into place protection against these safety hazards piles up over time, when it would be far more cost-effective to incorporate safety features into the design from the outset.
As far as health and safety in the workplace is concerned, there are a few tips to remember and keep in mind in order to increase workplace safety and minimise the chances of an accident or injury occurring.
Reduce Workplace Stress
The company has to find a way to mitigate the risks when the work involves long working hours, involves lifting heavy loads, has constant job insecurity and has too much unresolved conflict. The end results and consequences can include stress, depression, cliques and problems with focus and delivery.
Understand the Risks
Every work site has some risks inherent to the kind of work that is done for which it is not reasonably practical to eliminate entirely. It is a prudent safety goal to invest in finding out the potential hazards in your job space. Once the risks are well mapped out, measured and defined, invest in relevant health and safety training to minimise these risks and reduce the potential for accidents to take place.
Take Regular Breaks
Schedule the tasks in such a way that the most difficult work is done at the time of day when most effort can be put into it. Always have time for activities or short exercises that energise you and keep you fresh for your work. Also watch out for signs of fatigue and exhaustion which predisposes you to injuries, not to mention a loss of concentration and focus which can result in serious consequences if it happened to someone who was driving large vehicles such as excavators for instance.
Use Mechanical Aids
Rely on wheelbarrows, fork lifts, tongs, electronically-powered lifting equipment and any other appropriate aids around you, rather than trying to manually lift up these objects. Even when you think that you can manage the load by yourself, if these aids are present and available to assist then it is worth utilising them. Workplace ergonomics also play a key role in the cause or prevention of injuries. Rearrange your workspace in such a way that everything is within easy reach and reduces the amount of strain you place upon your body when reaching out for loads and objects.
Wear Protective Equipment
If worn correctly, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as boots, earplugs, ear defenders, hard hats, face masks, safety goggles and suitable gloves can dramatically reduce your risk of injury. Company managers should always invest in and provide quality protective gear which is suitable for the task and inspected regularly. As a worker, you need to attend to the tasks when you are sober and well-rested, and avoid intoxicating substances like alcohol, drugs or medication with strong side effects both before and during work.
Talk Over Any Concerns
Ensure that the company has a clear safety manual, complete with safety instructions and emergency contacts. Also confirm that the human resource office has done everything to make the office space a hazard free environment. Always have a clear reporting policy for safety concerns by employees.
Conduct Safety Training
Carrying out regular and comprehensive workplace safety training that is updated continually to incorporate arising risks in non-negotiable. Always keep an operational safety manual for every employee and have their knowledge updated every few months. As well as general health and safety qualifications like the NEBOSH General Certificate and courses like the IOSH Working Safely, bespoke training which focuses upon the exact risks and dangers associated with that specific place of work is also imperative for reducing the potential for accidents.
Providing the proper health and safety training is beneficial for everyone. Not only does it keep those employed workers safe and available to work, it also benefits their employers. Generally. the fewer accidents that happen in a workplace, the lower their insurance costs. Plus, if the workers aren't having to leave to recover and heal, they save money on training and replacing these valuable employees. However, just as important, health and safety training increases the chances of a positive and effective workplace environment.
Health and Safety in the Workplace - Stay Informed
The Importance of Health and Safety Training
The key to workplace safety is prevention, and the key to prevention is education. Health and safety in the workplace is a very serious matter and it falls to everyone to maintain a work environment that promotes safe and effective precautions. Whether you work on a construction site, at a hospital, or in an office setting, there is no such thing as a risk-free environment. That is why it is so vitally important that we take training courses geared toward health and safety seriously. Each year thousands are injured and some even lose their lives to preventable accidents in their place of business. Many of these mishaps could have been avoided simply by a greater awareness of potential dangers such as fire, tripping hazards, and good lifting habits. Training courses and health management systems are the means by which every employee can stay informed and up to date on workplace dangers.
In the US, according to the Department of Labor there were over a million injuries that resulted in employees having to take time away from work in 2015. That means a possible loss of pay for the employee and loss of labor for the employer. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports over four thousand deaths related to workplace hazards in 2013 alone. Hundreds of these fatalities could have been avoided by something as simple as effective health and safety training courses. It is to the mutual benefit of all that we stay well informed about workplace hazards. The use of resources such as online and face-to-face safety courses has been proven to dramatically reduce the number of accidents in professional environments.
Education and awareness about safety are also important when it comes to responsible resource management. Businesses can invest small fortunes in workers compensation and insurance premiums which will have a negative effect on employees at every level. If risks are reduced and safety protocols are adhered to, the resources used to cover the cost of preventable workplace injuries could be used elsewhere. The first step, as always, is making everyone aware of the dangers they face and the preventive measures they can take to avoid injury.
The Positive Effects of Providing Health and Safety Training
Despite the staggering numbers shown above, there is a bright side. Due to a rise in safety awareness and hazard prevention, the number of occupational injuries and fatalities are declining every year. That is good news but it does not mean we can relax; it is only through a heightened sense of awareness and collaborative effort that we can continue to build a safe and secure work environment for ourselves and our co-workers. Safety is the responsibility of every team member from entry level positions to upper management. While companies can make training mandatory, they cannot force anyone to take safety issues seriously. That is always up to the individual. The moment we become complacent and let our guard down, we will be putting ourselves and others at risk. If you wish to reduce risk in your place of business, stay informed, stay alert, and stay aware.