Ensuring Your Business Complies With Health and Safety Measures in the Workplace
When you run your own business there will be a long list of necessary tasks to complete. It might not be the most exciting checklist, but it will be vital, particularly when it relates to the everyday running of your business. You should ensure you comply with all measures outlined by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) which was established to ensure that all staff are protected in their working environment. In the long run it will prove more costly if you do not follow these precautions due to poor planning or being caught not adhering to the laws.
An area of Health and Safety that is a big concern is anything that relates to the possibility of there being a fire or explosion in your workplace setting. The first thing you should implement is a Health and Safety session with your employees so they understand what to do and how to react should any fires break out. It is also advisable that you train them to be able to use a portable fire extinguisher, as this can potentially be life saving to help control small fires before they escalate out of control, as you wait for the firefighters to arrive. So you will want to ensure that all aspects of fire safety are implemented.
Things to consider on your checklist would be.
- Fire extinguishers are located in the building and are easily accessible.
- You have a working fire alarm and regularly test it to make sure it works correctly.
- Installing a fire sprinkler system.
- You have a staff rota and know which members of staff are present and which are not scheduled to work that day.
- Not overloading electrical outlets, which is quite typical in an office environment.
- There are accessible fire exits and stairwells, particularly if you are located in a tall office building.
- Ensuring there is wheelchair access in the building especially if your staff need to leave in a hurry.
- A meeting point plan for all staff which they will be aware of and is visible, for evacuation rehearsals and in the event of an actual fire.
- Ensuring that your furniture is not made out of flammable materials.
It is necessary to keep up to date with fire safety regulations at least every year and whenever there are any changes within the workplace, for example if you have any maintenance work carried out. You should routinely practise fire evacuations with your members of staff so that everyone is aware of the necessary procedures and check that all your appliances are working well.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides minimum safety requirements that all workplaces need to adhere to, for protection of their employees. They include possible electrical faults that could occur, so this would include electrocution, electric shock but also other dangers such as explosions and fires.This is why you need to ensure that not only are you protecting your employees and yourself in the workplace, but also that you do not break the law. Section 1910.303(b)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards states that “Electric equipment shall be free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees”.
As a business you will be relying heavily on electricity to power you through your working day, so it will be vital that the electrical system is working well and there are no loose or old wires that could provide a risk of harm to anyone. When you first start up your business you should call professional electrical contractors in to carry out necessary work. It is also advisable to have regular check ups too to ensure that the electrical system is working smoothly. You certainly do not want to be cutting back on costs like electrical wiring and safety checkups. Therefore ensuring your business space is fitted with industry standard wiring, is essential to make sure everything runs smoothly on a daily basis, but also for health and safety reasons.
Another area to focus on with regards to Health and Safety is the ability to prevent any accidents occuring in the workplace and ensuring there are plenty of signs in place that can highlight if a particular area should be approached with caution, or not at all, because it poses a serious risk.
In 2020 the BLS’s Employer-Related Workplace Injuries and Illnesses News Release, reported that out of 100 full time workers at least 2.8 of those experienced an injury at work.
You will also want to ensure that you have a workplace injury plan in the event one of your staff does have an accident to provide after care support. The OSHA outline in the Safety and Health Regulations for Construction that any Signs, Signals, and Barricades under section 1926.200(a) are “required to be visible at all times when work is being performed, and shall be removed or covered promptly when the hazards no longer exist”.
There are a few things you can do in your workplace to prepare for this.
- Fully train your staff in how to lift any heavy objects, particularly to avoid unnecessary damage to their back.
- If your staff need to wear any visible uniforms such as Hi-Vis jackets, hard hats or appropriate footwear, they need to be supplied with the correct clothing.
- Ensure you staff receive their necessary breaks as tiredness or feeling sleepy can be a factor in accidents occurring.
- Though deadlines are important accidents can also occur when staff try to complete a task in a hurry.
Overall, regardless of the type of business you own, as long as you are organized and have the necessary protocols in place, train your staff accordingly you should hopefully not have to face criminal charges or end up being sued because you did not ensure your working environment was safe for all.
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