14 Aralık 2019 Cumartesi

New Year’s resolutions for health and safety professionals

For many, the beginning of January often marks an opportunity to make a New Year’s resolution.

14 Ocak 2017 Cumartesi 23:53
New Year’s resolutions for health and safety professionals
 For many, the beginning of January often marks an opportunity to make a New Year’s resolution. Whilst some will make personal commitments for 2017 – from getting fit to embracing a new hobby – the yearly tradition of pledging to improve or change specific habits can also be applied to the workplace. As 2016 has thrown up some new and unique challenges for health and safety professionals, in the form of Brexit and a shift in workplace attitudes, more must be done to ensure that 2017 is not only productive, but prosperous too.
Get up-to-date with the law

Last year proved to be a dramatic and interesting year for politics in the UK, and it seems that the period of political uncertainty will continue well into 2017 and for years to come. For occupational health and safety, Brexit continues to raise questions, especially as much of its binding legislation derives from the EU. When the UK does trigger Article 50 and begins to disengage with the European Union, the Government could potentially make changes to some regulations whilst stripping away others.

Although the Health and Safety at Work Act was created in Britain, its Brussels equivalent, the 1989 Health and Safety Framework Directive, could be impacted if the Government chooses to water down regulation in a bid to remove some red tape policies. Similarly, there has been recent speculation that the Government may also abolish the EU-led Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 legislation, which will remove employer responsibility to fund eye tests and glasses for workers using display screen equipment. With changes like these possibly on the horizon, it is essential that health and safety professionals are vigilant with any amendments to the law, ensuring that their services continue to meet legal and safe working requirements to protect workers.

the-provisions-of-the-teach, not preach

To mitigate risks in a work environment, health and safety practices must be ingrained into the day-to-day business culture and should not just be referred to in the event of an accident. A successful system will fully involve all employees, to allow them to confidently display and practice safe behaviours as a course of habit. To actively encourage employee engagement, health and safety professionals can implement a number of systems, including an active committee which allows staff to collaboratively develop and review ongoing and emerging issues.

Practitioners could also offer workers the necessary education, training and authority so that they can take ownership of safety practices. Giving employees responsibility, such as teaching them to be first aiders or fire marshals, will make them more accountable for their actions, which in turn could lead to a greater commitment to the role. This will aid in embedding health and safety measures into all activity within the workplace, ensuring that it is not just seen as an afterthought.

Champion the ‘health’ in health and safety

At the end of last year, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched its ‘Helping Great Britain work well’ initiative, which aims to tackle ill health within the workplace. Although typically many health and safety practices have been more focussed on the safety aspect of working practices, there seems to be a shift in attitude as the Government and employers strive to do more to boost employee wellbeing. Recent research by Business In Community has found that a healthy and active workforce can improve output and work satisfaction by up to 80 per cent, and therefore wellbeing should not be ignored.

There are many ways health and safety practitioners can promote a happy and safe workforce. High-grade ergonomic chairs and booster cushions could be introduced, in a bid to support workers’ posture and minimise slouching. Similarly, breakout areas could be established to encourage staff to take short, regular breaks, helping to revitalise energy, mind-set and productivity.

By making these small commitments this New Year, health and safety professionals can be confident that 2017 will bring an increase in employee engagement, wellbeing and retention. As with many areas of UK business, the health and safety landscape may have uncertain times ahead, but by recognising this and acting early ahead of changes in legislation, businesses can ensure that the next 12 months are a success.

Nigel Crunden is business specialist at business solutions provider Office Depot.

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