Health and safety for business. What comes to mind when you read this? Perhaps your business isn’t in an industry where there are high safety risks involved, and therefore you wouldn’t think there was a need to put the time into a structured program. Not true.
Did you know that any business with five employees or more is required to have a safety program?
Running a small business of any kind, even if you are mainly in an office environment, has the potential for safety hazards. The truth is, no matter how big or small your business is keeping employees safe from any type of harm is imperative to your success. Safety programs provide a clear process to identify hazards in the workplace, prevent employee injuries and plan for emergencies.
Creating a health and safety program for your business also keeps you current with WorkSafeBC’s requirements and promotes employee engagement through a strong culture of safety.
Three areas to think about when developing an effective safety program are:
1. Create a Clear Safety Policy and Process
A defined workplace safety policy and clear processes to identify hazards are the first steps to being proactive in preventing workplace injuries. A good safety policy and process should highlight the following:
- A way to identify hazards in the workplace
- Structured timeline for regular safety checks to occur
- Clear reporting structure and follow up for hazards that are identified
- Process defining how to report incidents or injury to WorkSafeBC
- Proper investigation and documentation of incidents and hazard reports
In addition to a structured policy and process, it’s important all staff understand their roles and responsibilities in order to be safe at work. A good way to ensure this is to make health and safety part of your on-boarding process for new employees.
2. Maintain Proper Safety Equipment
All offices must maintain proper functioning safety equipment. Ideally fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and a complete first aid kit are a good starting point. Safety equipment should be clearly marked and all staff need to be aware of locations as well as how to operate in case of emergency. Equipment needs to be properly maintained and regularly serviced. Skipping this step could lead to a costly mistake in the event of an emergency.
3. Emergency Preparedness
Most of us spend as much as half our time at work. This means there is a high probability that in the event of a disaster of any kind, your employees will be in the office.
Emergency services, such as hospitals, police and fire departments regularly review and practice what to do in the event of a disaster. While small businesses don’t need to go to the same extent of detail, planning for emergencies and disasters is a crucial aspect of running a business.
By involving your employees with this planning process it will help you and your employees:
• Identify and assess any risks
• Provide an opportunity to mitigate risk in an emergency
• Respond and stay safe during an emergency
• Minimize downtime in the event of a disaster or emergency
• Recover operations quickly
Employees are the heart and soul of any business. As an employer, it’s important you’re doing all you can to keep your people safe at work. Creating a detailed safety program is the first step.
For more information on health and safety requirements visit http://www.worksafebc.com/