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5 Ways to Avoid Work-Related Accidents

| Sep 13, 2017 08:51 AM EDT

5 Ways to Avoid Work-Related Accidents

Do you think the number or severity of accidents is too high in your workplace? Not only is it costly for your business in terms of compensation and lost man-hours, but a high rate of accidents can seriously damage your reputation, increase your insurance costs and limit the opportunities your business has with current and potential customers. Here are five ways you can avoid work related accidents if you agree that there's a serious business case (as well as ethical reason) for reducing them.

1. Improve your risk assessments

As you're likely to be aware, you're obliged to carry out risk assessments in your workplace to ensure that the public and your workers are kept as safe as possible. These risk assessments must identify the hazards your workers face (such as tripping over cables, slipping on spills or suffering an injury while using a piece of machinery).

After that, you need to identify the people who might be harmed if these hazards turn into incidents. This doesn't mean that you have to identify everyone on a personal level, but you do need to be able to identify groups of people. For instance, is it likely that workers who aren't fluent in English will struggle to read the health and safety signs you're displaying? If so, be sure to identify those groups so that you can better help them.

Then, you need to put measures in place to reduce the likelihood that accidents will happen. These control measures should detail practical steps to be taken, as well as information about who is in charge of implementing and confirming that these steps have been taken. The ultimate way to record your risk assessment and keep on top of the corrective actions you've identified is to use good risk assessment software from somewhere like Airsweb. Doing so could dramatically reduce the frequency and severity of work related accidents that happen in your business.

2. Provide frequent training

Another way to avoid workplace accidents is to make sure everyone has received good quality training. Whether it's training to use a specific piece of machinery or a vehicle, or simply training to ensure good posture when sitting at a desk for 8+ hours a day, you'll find that proper training empowers your workforce to take on some of the responsibility for keeping themselves safe from harm. Combined with risk assessments, you'll be a long way towards reducing the number of accidents that occur in your workplace.

3. Keep workspaces clear and tidy

You should also keep work areas clear of obstructions if you want to reduce hazards. In an office environment, this might mean using cable-ties and trunking to prevent cables from trailing across the floor, whereas in a warehouse environment, it might mean keeping vehicle access clear at all times, free from pallet boxes, vehicles and people. Again, it will probably take some training and behavioural change to achieve a clean and tidy workspace if that's not the norm for your environment right now, but it will certainly pay off.

4. Encourage a culture of open communication

This is a tip that's often overlooked in work environments, particularly in those where health and safety practices need to be at the forefront of everyone's mind. Conversely, that's because workers often feel that they 'should' know more than they do, and they're reluctant to highlight their knowledge gaps or draw attention to the fact that they've not been following recommended practices. So, encourage a culture of communication in your workplace. Encourage questions, try to ensure that everyone has a chance to speak, and consider adding an anonymised question box so that people can have their questions answered without everyone knowing they have a knowledge gap.

5. Learn from previous incidents

Finally, you can avoid workplace accidents from occurring by learning from what's already happened in the past. If you've been sensible enough to keep detailed records of previous incidents, see if you can spot any trends. You may notice that the same accident happens time and time again, or that a particular root cause is common between multiple incidents.

Those are just five ways to avoid work-related accidents. There are many more things you can do, so start by checking out the HSE's website for further guidance.

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