What Safety Rules Does Your Business Need to Follow?

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: What Safety Rules Does Your Business Need to Follow?.

By Jim Rose, freelance writer.

Workplace safety is an extremely serious endeavour for businesses to engage in, for numerous reasons. There is an essential moral precedent set on business owners and executives, to ensure staff under their charge or duty of care remain safe. On a more formal level, though, there is a key legal precedent for considering workplace safety.

The Health and Safety at Work Act is an industry-spanning document that paved the way for worker protection and safety, and today provides a formal rubric for businesses to follow regarding minimum safety standards. What follow are some simple observations born not just of the Act, but also the business owner’s civil liability and moral imperative.

Building Safety

Firstly, a base line of safety needs to be established. The building or premises in which workers are carrying out their duties should be in good repair, and relatively free of risk to health or life. This means infrastructural issues should be investigated at first opportunity, and the presence of dangerous substances from black mould to asbestos dealt with carefully.

PPE

Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, is just one sub-set of tools in a much wider health and safety policy landscape, but it is an extremely important one – so much so that the provision of PPE is a legal requirement. PPE encompasses wearable items that serve to mitigate harm during work, whether gloves for carrying dangerous loads or eye-goggles for protection from flying debris. Not only should PPE be provided, but also training in the correct use of PPE items.

Falling From Height

Falling from height is one of the more dangerous risks a worker can encounter, and is naturally more common in some industries than others. However, the Health and Safety Executive reports that falls from height were the single biggest cause of death in fatal accidents among UK workers. In 2021-22, 29 people died after falling from height, with moving vehicles the second-biggest cause of fatality.

There are multiple ways in which work-at-height risks might be managed, depending on the job role or industry. In industrial environments with walkways, guard-rails might be inspected and maintained regularly; in roofing, lanyards and belay ropes might be used to secure workers to the roof.

Trip, Slip and Fall Risks

While by no means a fatal risk, tripping or slipping is one of the more common risks a worker faces in any workplace – whether trailing cables in an administrative office environment or misplaced stock and equipment in trade sites. Here, training is one of the primary routes to managing risk; ensuring workers do not leave trip risks unattended, or that work is done to minimise risk during tasks such as running cables.

Working Conditions

Finally, there are general working conditions that can impact worker safety, temperature being a key one. Government guidance indicates that the minimum temperature for a working environment should be 16 degrees, or 13 degrees in strenuous work environments such as warehouses and manufacturing facilities.

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