A nationwide poll has revealed a worrying lack of health and safety knowledge, with 58% of workers admitting they did not know the basic health and safety rules of their workplace, and 33% thinking their workplace did not have any health and safety rules at all.
The study carried out by A-SAFE, polled 1,000 employees working across the following six industries;
1) Retail and distribution
3) Logistics and transport
4) Food and drink
6) Building, architecture and construction
60% of respondents do not fully adhere to health and safety practices
Equally worryingly, 60% of workers surveyed admitted to not following health and safety practices in their workplace. This means that 60% of workers around the world leave themselves completely open to safety risks on a daily basis.
Why are health and safety rules so important?
Regardless of industry or size, risk exists in every workplace. Health and safety rules and policies are put in place to prevent harm to employees, colleagues and publics, by reducing and eliminating risk where possible.
The lack of a strong policy or employee understanding, leaves everyone involved open to accidents and leaves the business liable for any injuries or fatalities. When an accident does occur, the business could face large fines, imprisonment and a hit to operations and reputation.
Worryingly, all six of the industries surveyed, have a higher average injury rate than the overall average, ranging from 2,200-3,050 injuries per 10,000 workers. While businesses should be working harder to prevent injury, instead employees are undertrained and undereducated on workplace safety.
Earlier this year a Diamond Box maintenance employee was injured when he was pulled into machinery during a repair.
An investigation into the evidence found that the packaging company allowed uncontrolled maintenance work to take place without a risk assessment, and no procedures in place for safe maintenance. The investigation by HSE found that the machine had a ‘jog mode’ which could have been set up to allow maintenance work to be carried out safely but the company had not identified this, trained staff to use it or enforced it’s use.
The business was fined £400,000 with £9886.04 of costs.
The lack of safe systems being implemented or communicated to their employees meant that Diamond Box put their employees at risk and allowed a dangerous and entirely avoidable accident to occur.
While legislation may differ around the world, it is the responsibility of the employer to carry out risk assessment and implement health and safety policy and rules accordingly. The provision of information, instruction, training and supervision are a legal requirement and failure to comply will lead to prosecution.
If your employees have been properly informed and trained on safe work practices in the workplace, it is there responsibility to comply in order to protect themselves, their colleagues and anyone else who could be effected by their work. In some countries, the failure to do so could lead to prosecution of the individual.
However, the business must be able to prove that the appropriate information and training has been provided at an adequate level.
Employers invested in the safety of their workforce will be proactive in adopting new processes with this in mind.
Getting your employees up to scratch with your health and safety policy
The key to helping your employees to understand your workplace health and safety rules, is education and training. Health and safety should form an integral part of business operations and employee induction.
How you decide to distribute and implement your policy should be tailored to your business, however there are some general tips you could consider;
- Integrate general health and safety rules into the employee contract
- Consider designing easy to understand brochures and flyers instead of lengthy and technical documents
- Provide training to employees on how to carry out their jobs safely, particularly for those in high risks roles
- Review your own rules regularly and send out updates accordingly
- Consider carrying out scheduled health and safety sessions to remind employees which rules they should be following. It is easy to become complacent and fall into a routine if health and safety policies are not enforced
- Consider incentives to reward safe work practices
- Reinforce the idea that health and safety benefits your employees’ wellbeing and that of their colleagues