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HowThursday 20 February 2020

How to avoid accidents at work – Top 10 Tips from Oxford Accident Solicitors

No matter where you work or what you do for a living, there are always practical steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of a workplace accident. Every employee is legally entitled to a safe working environment. Having a familiarity of your health and safety rights and responsibilities can not only help protect yourself, your colleagues, and your business from incidents and litigation, it can also help your organisation become a healthier and happier place to be. 


As Oxford’s leading specialist in accident claims, Oxford Accident Solicitors assist people who have suffered workplace calamities, many of which could have been avoided if sensible precautions had been in place. With that undeniable fact in mind, here are some basic tips to consider when thinking about the possibility of workplace injuries.


1.Keep Workplaces Clean


Most people don't immediately think of cleanliness as an accident deterrent. But there’s no denying that a dirty or cluttered work area isn’t just a drain on productivity; it’s an accident waiting to happen. If the passages around the workplace are not kept in good order, people can easily be injured and vehicles damaged. Simple things such as a slip on a wet floor or a collision with a stack of crates can cause long lasting injury. Hidden beneath stacks of items, sharp objects and other hazards could be lurking out of sight and out of mind. Waste, if not disposed of promptly, can cause slippages. And computer cables, if not organised, are clear tripping hazards. 


The clear first place to start when considering health and safety is basic cleanliness and workplace organisation. Ensure that every member of the team is doing their part and taking responsibility for their actions.


2.Carry Out Regular Risk Assessments


A risk assessment is a practical document that details the potential risks in your place of work. The assessor needs to be honest and accurate in their observations. Simple hazards like poor lighting, uneven floors, trailing cables and inadequate ventilation are all examples of common problems that should be recorded in an assessment. Consider it an action plan. Once these issues have been identified and recorded, the assessor can then decide who is most at risk and what needs to be done in response. This document and its control measures should be recorded and reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that progress is made.


3.Health & Safety Signage


Employers should post signs reminding employees of proper safety procedures in hazardous areas. It is important that signs are spaced evenly, are appropriately signified according to signage legislation, and that they are positioned in a noticeable way. An employee should have an immediate understanding of the behaviour expected of them when seeing a sign warning them of danger. A full booklet of what measures constitute adequate signage can be found on the HSE website.


4.Ensure Vehicle Maintenance Is Up To Date


For employers that provide staff with company vehicles to complete daily tasks, it is imperative that cars are well maintained and serviced on a regular basis. This may seem obvious, but the bill for accidents resulting from unperformed vehicle maintenance runs into tens of millions per year. Not only that, but vehicle malpractice can lead to serious lifelong injury, or fatalities in the worst cases. There are no excuses. Ensure that all machines and vehicles are kept in solid condition and ascertain that staff are well aware of how to operate them safely.


5.Report Dangers and Accidents


Most employees know that they should report an actual accident but it's important that employers encourage their staff to bring any potential danger to management’s attention. Procedures should be in place so that employees know who to talk to if they identify a previously unnoticed hazard, whether that be a supervisor or a health and safety representative. Empowering your staff to be honest in this way will help establish a responsible and open workplace culture, and will reassure them that you have their best interests in mind.


6.Insist Upon Proper Training


Proper training is especially important if you have a job that may present a number of risks. All employees who work in positions that could potentially be hazardous should have a foundation of thorough training. They should be skilled enough to identify risks and act promptly to alleviate them. To rush someone into their position in order to meet deadlines could be construed as negligent and may place individuals in harm’s way. Training should always take precedent before an employee starts their role in earnest.


7.Wear Required Safety Gear


Safety gear and its proper usage is an important part of introductory training. This is especially true for employees who work in complex environments such as laboratories or building sites. But even if an individual has been working in their role for a number of years, refresher training is key, especially if circumstances and technology are prone to change. Again, there is never an excuse for not wearing the correct gear for your role, and many incidents could have been avoided if this common sense rule was kept to. Take a non-nonsense approach and ensure that your employees are taking necessary precautions before starting their daily tasks.


8.Pay attention to Emergency Drills.


Safety drills are often taken for granted. They are interruptive and can feel like a distraction, especially during busy periods. But if a fire did break out, or there was a security incident on-site, every member of staff should know how to respond in order to reduce the chaos of the moment. This hardwired response will help keep individuals safe and secure, so ensure that employees are aware of the emergency exits, where to gather in the event of an incident, and that passageways are kept clear and unobstructed.


9.Avoid Shortcuts


As familiarity with a role develops, employees may learn how to take shortcuts to circumvent procedures that they may see as time wasting or frustrating. In the long run, such actions are short sighted and can lead to calamity. Why put on so much gear just to complete one small task? Why run out and stand on the side of the road in the rain to guide the truck when you instinctively know that there is no incoming traffic? It is misguided assumptions such as these that can lead to terrible accidents. As repetitive as it can be, it really is better to be safe than sorry, and failing to observe these measures can put one’s job, and life, at risk. Line managers should discourage any attempts at cutting corners and should make clear the consequences of being too hasty.


10.Always Be Alert.


If an employee is underslept, unwell, or distracted, they can unwittingly put others at risk. Yes, the morning coffee helps with such circumstances. But if you notice an employee lagging behind or showing the common signs of exhaustion, permit them a small break to recuperate. A diminished attention span increases the likelihood of shortcuts and the misappropriation of equipment. It is ultimately worth the five minute breaks to keep your team focused upon their tasks in a manner that is safe and responsible.


Ultimately, good practice when it comes to health and safety will lead to a significant reduction in the number of workplace accidents. However, if you are the victim of a workplace accident that was not your fault, you may be able to make a claim. 


For free legal advice about making a no win, no fee claim, please contact Robert Millbourn on 01865 315309.

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