Key Health and Safety Responsibilities of Employers
18 July 2023 - Evotix
Safety in the workplace is more than just a legal obligation; it's a crucial factor that can impact employees, customers and the overall success and reputation of a business.
However, mere policies are not enough – employers and employees must join forces to uphold and prioritize health and safety. So, what are the key actions employers should take to ensure the well-being and safety of their employees? In this post, we will delve into these responsibilities and shed light on the role employees play in this collective effort.
Knowing the law
For employers, the first step toward embracing their health and safety responsibilities is to be well-versed in their legal duty to protect employees. In the United States, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are entrusted with the responsibility of providing a safe and healthy workplace.
The act encompasses various crucial actions, such as:
Preventing serious recognized hazards
Providing adequate safety training
Maintaining records of work-related injuries and illnesses
Ensuring employees have the appropriate equipment
Regularly maintaining the equipment
However, these obligations are not exhaustive. To truly fulfill their duty under the OSHA Act, employers must undertake several additional responsibilities, which we will explore in greater detail below.
Conducting risk assessments
Carrying out risk assessments is a pivotal aspect of effective health and safety management. To craft a comprehensive health and safety policy, it is essential to identify the hazards that employees are most likely to encounter.
The risk assessment process involves the following five steps:
1. Identify hazards that could cause harm, ranging from machinery and ergonomic hazards to psychological factors such as workplace bullying.
2. Determine the employees that might be harmed by these hazards and how.
3. Evaluate the likelihood and severity of harm to employees. Based on this evaluation, implement measures to control the risks to a reasonable extent.
4. Maintain a written report of the main findings of the risk assessment if your workforce consists of over five employees.
5. Regularly review and update the risk assessment to ensure consistent application of control measures, considering any changes such as new machinery or tasks.
Once the assessment is completed, it is crucial to share the key findings with employees and communicate the measures implemented to mitigate the identified risks. This ensures that everyone remains updated on how to carry out their work safely.
Crafting a clear health and safety policy
As soon as the results of the risk assessment are obtained, it's time to create a robust health and safety policy. This policy should outline the rules and regulations governing the workplace, as well as specify the individuals responsible for different areas of the business. Documenting this information and sharing it with employees ensures that they understand their responsibilities and know who to approach in case of a hazard or incident.
Training and empowering employees with knowledge
Training plays a crucial role in equipping staff with the knowledge necessary to identify and mitigate workplace hazards and risks. Health and safety training should cover various aspects, including hazard management and emergency procedures. Whether conducted virtually or in-person, training should be provided to all employees, with special emphasis on new recruits to ensure a smooth onboarding process.
Implementing effective incident reporting solutions
Even with a comprehensive health and safety policy in place, accidents may still occur. To handle these incidents efficiently and minimize their impact, it is vital to empower employees to report any incidents promptly to a senior member of staff. This enables swift action and facilitates a proactive response to mitigate potential harm.
Some solutions also enable employees to upload images to forms, ensuring as much clarity around the incident as needed. It’s also important to invest in a solution that enables employees to send alerts to the right people, so they can respond instantly and take action to mitigate as much harm or damage as possible.
Opening up the dialogue around health and safety
By regularly engaging in discussions about health and safety with employees, employers create an environment where employees feel comfortable raising concerns about hazards and proposing solutions.
Employees who directly interact with workplace tasks often have valuable insights regarding potential risks, making their opinions instrumental in proactive health and safety management.
The health and safety responsibilities of employers extend far beyond conducting an initial risk assessment. To foster a happier, more productive and safer work environment, employers must establish and communicate health and safety measures throughout the entire organization.
Interested in learning about how to keep your lone workers safe next? Explore our blog: Keep Your Lone Workers Safe With These 6 Key Steps
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