By law businesses in the UK must comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act, which ensures that appropriate health and safety is implemented to create a safe working environment. Of course, carrying out risk assessments for health and safety can throw up a whole host of different hazards, including the more obvious ones such as fire safety and first aid. But there are a few more unusual ones that you may need to think about that can effect on working safely.
These can consist of environmental, workplace or employee factors, but should definitely be a consideration.
If you have employees who are carrying out work outside, then the chances are that weather is already on your radar as a potential hazard. Understandably extreme weather conditions, such as high heat, freezing cold, snow and torrential rain can all pose high to outdoor workers. Thus ensuring they have the appropriate workwear for the climate, such as an all-weather hi-vis jacket and gloves in cold weather and caps in the summers will ensure that workers are suitably protected from the elements.
In addition to this, even indoor workplaces should consider the weather as part of their health and safety assessments. Controlling the temperature inside the building by installing the appropriate heating and ventilation systems is vital to keeping your employees in good health and ultimately more productive. Also, it’s a good idea to consider the position of workstations close to windows, as sunlight streaming in can cause excessive heat in the summer, whilst these areas may be colder in the winter.
A little pressure in the workplace isn’t uncommon and in some industries is an essential part of the job, but stress can have a significant effect on working environments and safety. If employees subjected to a high level of pressure or extreme demand is put on them in the workplace, this can lead to them feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Besides the health implications to the individual that stress can have with regards to high blood pressure, breakdowns and time off sick, it can also cause inherent risks in the workplace too. A lapse in concentration, rushed work or taking on too much can cause mistakes to happen and can breach health and safety procedures.
Another factor that can also affect work safety it not having an area in your business for rest and relaxation. Whether it’s a fully-equipped canteen or a small kitchenette with a few chairs, making sure you have somewhere where your employees can relax, eat and rest can help to refresh and revitalise workers, improving how they function during the working day.
Leading on from rest areas, it’s also very important to recognise the effect that tiredness can have on working safety, particularly in environments where there is machinery or vehicles. Furthermore, those industries where there are unusual working hours or night shifts should also pay attention to tiredness with employees, ensuring regular breaks are taken.