According to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, it is the requirement of the employer to ensure that the working environment is safe for employees. This being said, accidents do still occur at work and it is often the Human Resources (HR) department that will act on these.
Below are some tips for HR professionals on how to prevent workplace accidents in the first instance:
- Identify workplace risks: This will be done in the Risk Assessment which employers have to complete, by law, according to The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This will identify potential hazards in the workplace and will become the basis for creating an appropriate health and safety policy.
- Health and safety culture: Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers have a Duty of Care to their employees. This means that theyhave a moral and legal responsibility to ensure the well-being of their workers. Therefore, encouraging a safety culture within the workplace will ensure that health and safety is made a priority and so less likely to fall short and risk disciplinary or legal action.
- Self-care: Promote a healthy work-life balance, this will go a long way to making sure that employees are more alert at work. It is said that fatigue alone costs the UK between £115 to £240 million per year in workplace accidents. So, it is important that workers are getting enough rest and eating properly to minimise the risk of fatigue.
Even if the above has been put in to practice, there is still a chance that a workplace accident will occur. With this in mind, below are a few pointers on what to do if this happens:
- Support the manager: Make sure that the manager fulfils their obligations and ensures that the injured employee is looked after.
- Ensure a thorough report is completed by the manager: As part of the managers responsibility, they will need to complete a thorough report of the incident. This can then be used as a tool to update health and safety policy to prevent the same accident from happening again.
- Support the injured employee: If time needs to be taken off of work for their injuries, you will have to assess their needs, readiness to work, and ensure they are getting the correct Statutory Sick Pay. If they are entitled to Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit then you should take steps to help them claim this.
- Compensation: In some cases, the employee may want to file for compensation, if they feel they have been failed by health and safety in the workplace. If this happens, do not treat the employee any differently. Make sure they still feel supported and your insurance company will give you further guidance on the matter.
As a HR professional, you are largely responsible for maintaining a positive health and safety culture throughout the business. If this is done effectively, then the workplace will be a much safer place and accidents will minimised.