All companies know what a drain absenteeism is and what it can do to profitability. Modern offices are open plan and have air circulating throughout. Employees share cups, plates and office supplies, as well as chat together in meeting rooms and small spaces. This environment breeds disease, no doubt about it! There is no need to panic!
While in most cases there is not much we can do to prevent the common cold circulating throughout the office, there are more important complaints that we, as business owners, need to concern ourselves with. This is related to employee wellbeing. It can be quite dangerous for an employer to get complaints about headaches because of monitors or lighting, back pain because of poor chair quality and a whole host of other ailments that coincide with employees sitting at a desk and working from a computer for a whole day. These are the complaints that are more serious and tend to lead to court cases and insurance claims.
In the United Kingdom the Health and Safety act is the primary piece of legislation covering work-related health and safety in the workplace. It sets out your employer’s responsibilities for your health and safety at work. As an employer you have what is known as a “duty of care” to look after, as far as possible, the health, safety and welfare of your employees while they are at work. It is a good stepping stone to start with a risk assessment of the workplace in order to spot potential health and safety problems
The official rules as laid out by the health and safety act define the “duty of care” and they’re good as a guide for any office anywhere. Check out the following:
All employers, whatever the size of the business, must:
- make the workplace safe
- prevent risks to health
- ensure that plant and machinery is safe to use, and that safe working practices are set up and followed
- make sure that all materials are handled, stored and used safely
- provide adequate first aid facilities
- tell you about any potential hazards from the work you do, chemicals and other substances used by the firm, and give you information, instructions, training and supervision as needed
- set up emergency plans
- make sure that ventilation, temperature, lighting, and toilet, washing and rest facilities all meet health, safety and welfare requirements
- check that the right work equipment is provided and is properly used and regularly maintained frequent checks need to be made on all electrical equipment
- prevent or control exposure to substances that may damage your health
- take precautions against the risks caused by flammable or explosive hazards, electrical equipment, noise and radiation
- avoid potentially dangerous work involving manual handling and if it can’t be avoided, take precautions to reduce the risk of injury
provide health supervision as needed
- provide protective clothing or equipment free of charge if risks can’t be removed or adequately controlled by any other means under this category can come the provision of suitable office chairs.
- ensure that the right warning signs are provided and looked after – for example fire exits signs clearly labelled
- report certain accidents, injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences to either the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the local authority, depending on the type of business. All injuries need to be reported
To be a successful employer the health and safety of your employees needs to be considered a priority.