EXCELLENCE IN HSE COMPLIANCE
The British Safety Council has issued introductory advice on managing two of the most common occupational health risks – work-related stress and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). It also provides some tips on how employers can help workers to make lifestyle choices that improve their overall health and wellbeing – such as by increasing their levels of physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.
The broad range of occupational health problems and conditions means that employers must carefully assess and then eliminate or control the various health risks their workers may be exposed to. This means considering both traditional physical health hazards – such as exposure to chemicals, noise, vibration and injury risks while lifting and handling loads – and issues that can affect workers’ mental wellbeing, such as excessive workloads and poor relationships at work.
According to the guidance:
This section of the guidance highlights the ongoing coronavirus outbreak has potentially had a negative effect on people’s mental wellbeing. For example, workers may be worried about themselves or their loved ones contracting the virus, have fears about their job security and be struggling to balance their work and their childcare commitments. In addition, some workers may ﬁnd working at home an isolating and challenging time, which could affect their stress levels and mental health. Also, as the lockdown is eased and workplaces start to re-open, workers may be fearful of being exposed to the virus, either at work or while travelling to it.
It highlights HSE advice covering workers' concerns about returning to work, which sets out that employers should take steps such as:
The HSE has called for businesses in Great Britain to make sure they’re COVID-secure as more sectors open.
It says inspectors are out and about, putting employers on the spot and checking that they are complying with health and safety law. Being COVID-secure means being adaptable to the current guidance and putting measures in place to control the risk of coronavirus to protect workers and others.
There are five practical steps that businesses can take to do that:
“Ensuring workplaces are COVID-secure will not only reassure and increase confidence with workers, but also customers, partners and the local community. Nobody wants lockdown measures to be reversed and the Government has made clear that it will not hesitate to do so if the virus is not properly controlled.”
As inspections are ongoing, HSE has been utilising a number of different ways to gather intelligence and reach out to businesses with a combination of site visits, phone calls and through collection of supporting visual evidence such as photos and video footage.
Some of the most common issues that HSE and local authority inspectors are finding include:
Philip continued: “All sectors and business of all sizes are in scope for inspections and we will ask questions of duty holders to understand how they are managing risks. We understand that the vast majority of employers want to make their workplaces secure and are doing everything they can to keep people and their business safe and healthy.
“Ultimately, becoming COVID-secure benefits the health of our nation; the health of our communities, of businesses and the health of the UK economy. As a nation, we can’t afford not to become COVID-secure.”
An IOSH report called How to manage your people safely includes the results of a YouGov survey of nearly 700 company decision-makers from a range of sectors about how health and safety is managed.
Of the respondents, 96% agreed that line managers are important in ensuring the people who report to them are safe and healthy in the workplace, with 21% saying investigations into accidents had shown a management failure was a contributing factor.
However, 19% said their organisations don’t train line managers in health and safety. Most of these organisations are small or medium sized, with 250 employees or less.
Duncan Spencer, Head of Advice and Practice at IOSH, said: “As with all risk, management are accountable for delivering a safe workforce and performance – first-line managers for ensuring controls are implemented and middle managers for providing the resources to deliver controls and the leadership for setting direction. All need different health and safety competence for their role which needs underpinning with useful training they can apply in practice.
“Our survey suggests that the vast majority of businesses recognise that this is the case but it is worrying that so many don’t train their line managers in health and safety. Without this training, how do these line managers know how to properly assess is something could cause an accident or could harm someone’s health? How can they know what they need to do if there is a health and safety risk?
“We urge organisations to ensure their line managers do access health and safety training. We know from our survey that those which have invested in such training have really benefited.
“This is particularly crucial at the current time. As businesses across sectors are reopening premises, they must manage an array of risks. They have to ensure their workplaces manage the threat of Covid-19 transmission while also continuing to provide measures to prevent all other hazards. Again, line managers are key here.”
IOSH is the global chartered body for occupational health and safety professionals. It is also a world-leading developer of health and safety training products.
Its survey also asked whether investing in externally-provided health and safety courses drove business benefits, with 82% saying it did. Of those, 39% said they had experienced a reduction in lost time because of accidents, 36% said their reputation within their supply chain had been enhanced, while 30% said they had recorded increased productivity because of fewer accidents.
Nearly half (46%) of all survey respondents who said they invest in externally-provided courses for managers said they had used IOSH’s Managing Safely, which is designed to provide all managers with the ability to apply the knowledge they gain in the workplace.
You can view full Managing Your People Safely report here:- https://iosh.com/media/8267/managing-your-people-safely.pdf