Workplace Safety

Maintaining a safe working environment is one of the most important aspects of business management and HR. Last year alone, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that approximately 1.1 million people in the UK suffered from work-related injuries and accidents. Learn how to prevent workplace accidents and how to help employees who suffer from them by following these tips.

Assessing and Managing Risks

The first step to ensuring employee safety in the workplace is to carry out a risk assessment to identify potential hazards in the workplace—harmful chemicals, electrical shocks, working at height, wires and wet floors that might cause slips and falls, etc. Once you identify the risks, brainstorm ways they can be controlled or removed altogether, and put in writing who will be responsible for managing each of the risks on your list. This document, known as a health and safety policy, is mandatory for any company that has at least five employees. As well as managers and HR staff, all of your employees should be familiar with your company’s health and safety policy. The policy should be reviewed regularly and supplemented by health and safety instruction.

Reporting Work-Related Accidents and Injuries

In the unfortunate event that one of your employees is harmed in the workplace, you need to know your role as a manager or HR director. Each case of an industrial accident or illness should be recorded in your company’s accident book, even if the worker is home-based. Some workplace injuries need to be reported to the HSE as well, including occupational diseases, dangerous occurrences, major injuries, over-seven-day injuries, and deaths. Refer to the HSE’s website for a complete listed of workplace accidents you are obligated to report.

Sorting Out Statutory Sick Pay and Other Legal Matters

Unless you have your own company sick pay scheme, you’ll have to abide by national statutory sick pay guidelines to compensate employees who have been absent for more than four consecutive days due to a work-related accident or illness. You have a responsibility to keep a record of the employee’s absences, as well as the dates and amounts of compensation paid out to the employee. The current rate for SSP is £85.85 per week. HRMC’s website provides more information on SSP policies and payments.

It is important to have frequent communication with the injured employee so that you can go over the terms of the contract, review his or her rights to time off and statutory sick pay, and collect necessary documentation regarding medical visits. Remember that your employee is likely to be worried and frightened during this time, so part of your job is to open up a dialogue where he or she can express concerns and resolve them in an amicable way. Failure to make expectations clear or make comprises when necessary may lead your employee to file an accident at work claim later on.