Of course, ensuring employee safety is critical, but there are also real benefits to be had as we found out from Kent Vision LIVE exhibitor, The Bradley Group.
Health in the workplace and employee wellbeing have swiftly become key topics for employers. However, despite how often these issues arise, to many employers, these are still nebulous concepts.
There are several factors at play when it comes to keeping your employees safe. First of all, it is crucial that you do everything in your power to keep your employees (and in turn customers and other stakeholders) physically safe. Negligence in this area can lead to injury and unfortunately death.
Looking at the HSE’s Health and Safety at Work Statistics for 2016/17 can be a sobering read. Some of the standout statistics are:
- 1.3 million people are suffering from a work-related illness
- Businesses lose 31.2 million working days due to work-related illness and workplace injury
- Over 600,000 injuries caused at work
- 137 workers killed at work
It is that last statistic that is the most troubling. 137 lives have been lost at work. It has been nearly two years since the new Sentencing Guidelines for Corporate Manslaughter came into force, and generally, these rules have been an extremely good thing. We should never, ever forget that the rules are in place to protect people and keep people safe. It is not about unfairly penalising a company; it is about punishing those who have put people’s lives in danger either through negligence or through willful ignorance. It is also not about punishing people where genuine, unavoidable accidents have happened.
Whilst theoretically there is the potential for a business to receive a limitless fine; there are numerous factors that are taken into consideration when a sentence is being levied. They will look at the size, income and culpability of the organisation in question and will look at previous incidents, what could have been done and how bad (or potentially bad) the incident in question was.
Ensuring your employees are kept safe isn’t only a moral imperative; failure do so could lead to your business collapsing and if you’re culpable you could even face prison. So are you doing all you can to keep your employees safe? Do you have adequate health and safety policies? Do you have all the right risk assessments in place? Is there a competent person in charge of your organisation’s health and safety? These are the questions business owners need to be asking themselves.
The second factor that you also should be considering is whether or not you’re looking after your employees’ mental health. If you are uncertain about what your responsibilities are in relation to employee health and wellbeing then you need to seek some help or advice. Gaining a thorough understanding of this area serves the dual purpose of protecting your employees and making your business more efficient.
Getting a handle on properly managing your employees’ health and wellbeing can yield extremely positive results for your business. Happier staff are more productive and tackling health issues can also see the number of working days lost to sickness lowered. This means that your business will actually save and make more money in the long run.
The NHS list the five steps to mental wellbeing as being:
Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
Be active – you don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
So what does this look like when applied to organisations? It can be as simple as educating staff in the benefits of a healthy diet, not smoking and physical activity – such as offering subsidised gym memberships.
Whatever the size of your businesses, looking after employee safety needs to be an essential part of your business strategy.