Experts Warn of the Dangers of Overlooking Different Safety Risks at Work
While much of the public attention has been focused on the Covid-19 pandemic and how to get back to work safely, experts have warned of the dangers of neglecting other health and safety risks.
As part of this, an update from the British Health and Safety Executive (HSE) pointed out that two large fines of over £1 million each were imposed in May on companies that failed to comply with existing safety regulations.
Safety When Working at Height
The first of these cases involved a worker suffering serious injuries after falling from height while testing a sprinkler system. It should be remembered that the Work at Height Regulations 2005 detail the precautions that need to be put in place by employers.
The use of suitable ladders, platforms and other equipment is essential. Any work that is to be carried out at height needs to be well-planned and supervised, as well as being carried out by workers who are trained and competent at the job.
New rules, such as wearing a facemask and maintaining the adequate social distancing, could make these jobs more awkward to plan in the future. However, the HSE confirms that falls from height are among the most common work-related accidents and that workers’ safety cannot be compromised.
Taking Care of Equipment
The second case mentioned by the HSE involved two workers suffering serious burns when high-pressure steam was released by equipment without adequate control.
This reminds us of the need to take care of equipment and control how it is used. The desire to comply with new Covid-related rules shouldn’t mean that equipment safety and condition is neglected.
It is important to remember that all equipment needs to be made of suitable materials, such as high-quality CE marked fabrications. They should also only be used by qualified personnel and need to be maintained in the way that is recommended by the manufacturer.
Mental Health at Work
Another issue that has been mentioned recently is the area of mental health risks at work in the current situation. The launch of Mental Health Awareness Week in mid-May provided an opportunity for the UK’s Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to provide guidance on this subject.
ACAS produced a document titled “Coronavirus and mental health at work”. It covered areas such as how employees can help to look after the mental health and safety of their staff during these difficult times.
They confirmed that good communication is vital in this respect. It was also pointed out in the guide that employers should look out for the key signs of mental health issues among their workers.
This follows on from a survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that showed almost 50% of Brits reporting high levels of anxiety at the end of March this year. This represents some 25 million people and was a substantial increase from the 21% reported by the ONS at the end of 2019. Happiness and satisfaction levels were down in the same period.