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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Creating A Safe Workspace: A Guide For African Americans

African American worker in construction

Nationwide — Health and safety in the workplace is not just about legal compliance or box-ticking. Putting the safety and health of your employees first will have a knock-on effect in that it will ensure that they feel valued and are able to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. A dangerous or unsanitary workplace is more likely to result in injured, unwell and absent staff which will directly impact your business’ productivity. In addition, a safe working environment reduces the likelihood of a compensation claim or law suit, which could be disastrous for your company reputationally and financially. This guide outlines some of the key considerations to consider when creating a safe workspace.

Run Health & Safety Training for Staff
Prevention is better than cure and this is also true of health and safety. By ensuring that your employees are trained and knowledgeable about their roles, the equipment they are using and the potential risks in their environment puts your employees in the driving seat. While you have a responsibility to provide the right environment and equipment, you also need to ensure they are fully trained to wear and use it correctly. It’s not enough to assume that everyone understands what is expected of them, so it’s best to create a formal health and safety training program which all employees must complete on an annual basis.

Provide the Correct Safety Equipment and Protective Workwear
If your business requires employees to work with potentially dangerous equipment such as machinery, chemicals, electrical equipment, fire, harmful gases, knives or similar, you need to ensure that you are providing adequate protection. This may include gas masks, eye protection, overalls, gloves, hard hats, safety boots, etc. Make sure all senior staff are setting a good example by wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment or PPE. This should reduce the risk of an employee becoming injured at work which could put you at risk of accident claims for compensation or legal action.

Display Safety Signs and Advisory Posters
Humans make mistakes, especially when we’re busy and often when we are doing something we have done a thousand times before. In fact, performing the same task day-in-day-out can often lead people to become casual about it and to fall into an auto-pilot mode. This is unfortunately when accidents will occur. You can help to remind your employees about the dangers around them with signs and advisory notices which tell them where hard hats and safety boots are required, for example.

Keep the Workspace Clear and Clean
It’s essential to keep the workplace clear of clutter and to clean away mess as soon as possible as this reduces the likelihood of trips or slips and of your employees coming into contact with a harmful substance. Of course, health and safety is not all about accidents and injuries, as an unsanitary environment can lead to illness, so ensure the premises are professionally cleaned on a regular basis.

Have Clear Emergency Exits
In the event of an emergency, everyone in the building needs to be able to exit quickly and safely. A fire, malfunctioning machine or a chemical spill could be lethal if employees are unable to escape so make sure all emergency exits are not obstructed, are clearly marked and that your employees know which is the nearest at all times. You may also want to run emergency drills to keep the emergency escape plan fresh in everyone’s minds.