Health and safety concerns are a major part of many conversations about the workplace, and a punchline to more than a few rants these days. The truth is, for every story about “health and safety gone mad”, there are innumerable people who owe their health and even their lives to improved safety regulations. Any business that wishes to achieve its ambitions would do well to stick to the regulations and keep a regular audit.
The truth of the matter is that, if anything, workplace health and safety could do with being tighter in most cases. If all that your business does is look at the regulations and eschew any practice that oversteps the mark, then there is a decent chance your rules are still not helping your employees in the way that the first safety campaigners had in mind when bringing issues to light.
We know the “workstation workout”, but do we observe it?
Most workplace onboarding processes involve getting new members of staff to watch, or read, a course on how to prevent ill-health at their workstation. Changing one’s sitting position, getting up and moving around, and adjusting equipment are all things we are advised to do – and all are things that get missed out when we’re rushed off our feet. If you know you need to cover a certain number of calls in the next twenty minutes, will you take the few minutes you need to preserve your health, or will you prioritise your targets? Most people will do the latter, so ask yourself whether the targets themselves are the issue.
There’s a buzz around the building… but should there be?
Total silence in a work environment is not ideal – if anything, it’s eerie and off putting. We’re used to a certain amount of background hubbub, to the point where we just expect it to be there and accept it. However, sometimes that background noise is due to chatty co-workers, and sometimes it’s machinery or tech equipment that is kept too close to the working areas and can cause health issues in the workplace, including heating difficulties. If you’re setting up a workplace for the best results, consult with acoustic consultants for projects like this. They will be aware of how to avoid issues in the long term.
Emphasise the importance of handwashing
Social distancing and mask-wearing have become de rigueur in workplaces worldwide since the pandemic began, and with good reason; if you must be in the office, common sense dictates that you avoid behaviour that can pass on the virus. Masks and distancing are easy to enforce, but the most important of all considerations is hand washing – if you’re handling equipment that other people will use and have used, make sure you’re washing your hands before and after, and making it clear that others should do the same. Covid-19 can live on surfaces for several hours, so don’t give it the chance.
It’s also essential to take into account, for this virus and for any that may make an appearance in future, that airborne transmission becomes much more likely in poorly ventilated workplaces. Installing a working air conditioning system is a health necessity as much as it is a comfort matter. Being ahead of the curve is always worthwhile.
There are some considerations that have become all-important since the breakout of coronavirus, and others which have always needed to be reinforced. Going forward, there is going to be less excuse for gaps in workplace health and safety, so always keep employee welfare front and centre in deciding any policy.