Many SMEs regard Health and Safety (H & S) regulations as a burden and a cost but demonstrating a genuine commitment to best practices can bring huge benefits.
Employees are likely to be more committed to you and your company if you pay attention to any risks that may be involved in their jobs and their working environment.
Furthermore, supporting your staff by offering them training in various aspects of H & S and giving them responsibility for various aspects can boost confidence, which then transfers to their competence and loyalty when doing their jobs.
In factories, the basic elements of a good H & S policy include having available properly maintained eye washing and first aid kits and, increasingly, defibrillators and ensuring people are trained to use them properly.
Ensuring there are safe, and clearly-marked lanes for moving vehicles such a fork lift trucks, training in safe lifting and handling of heavy items are other items on the H & S checklist, along with safe handling and storage of potentially hazardous substances that may be needed for the manufacturing process.
In offices, again, keeping walkways clear and free of trip hazards is important.
H & S (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 cover aspects of working for long periods at a computer. The guidance is that short, frequent breaks are more satisfactory than occasional, longer breaks: e.g., a 5-10 minute break after 50-60 minutes continuous screen and/or keyboard work is likely to be better than a 15 minute break every 2 hours;
The guidance includes showing people who are deskbound and using computers for most of their working day how to set up their desks properly to minimise back and wrist problems.
Equally a business employing people who regularly work for long periods at a screen must provide eye tests for employees who request them and must pay for basic frames and lenses for spectacles for DSE work if found necessary. Why not be proactive and offer them to staff?
Regularly reviewing and applying H & S best practice can demonstrate concern for employees’ wellbeing and that you value their contribution to the business’ success.
It’s all about being proactive and demonstrating that you genuinely value and care for your staff. They are likely to repay your concern for them with loyalty to you and the business.