By Bimbola Oyesola
THE International Labour Organisation (ILO) marks the World Day for Occupational Safety and Health at Work on April 28 of every year to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally. IndustriALL Affiliates in Nigeria were not left behind as they marked the event.
In many parts of the world, national authorities, trade unions, employers’ organisations and safety and health practitioners organise activities to mark the day, to raise awareness and campaign to focus international attention on emerging trends in the field of occupational safety and health and on the magnitude of work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities worldwide.
According to IndustriAll African chairperson, Issa Aremu, more people are killed at work than in wars every year. He added that the global body was determined to join forces to put health and safety issues on the front burner of labour and management relations
However, studies have shown that the best way to reduce accidents in the workplace is to be proactive with prevention. There are many ways to prevent accidents but in implementing these methods, there is need for consistency and communication. Below could be considered as safety suggestions in the workplace:
- Communicate your health and safety policy to staff: Every business is required to have one, and if you employ more than five staff, it must be in writing and available for employees to read. This might be by including it in induction packs, staff handbooks or posting it on a notice board.
- Put someone in charge of safety in your company: Discuss the current safety policies with this safety coordinator, and work on a plan to make sure that they are adhered to. Confirm that the person is aware of all the responsibilities associated with safety. Express your support to this person and arrange to meet on a regular basis to discuss concerns about and solutions to further accident prevention.
- Assess the risks: All businesses are obliged to carry out a health and safety risk assessment. Consider all the potential hazards in your workplace, for example, are employees required to carry heavy items or work from height? Or is there any chance that customers could trip or hurt themselves on your premises? Keep a written record of your risk assessment and any steps you take to reduce the chance of accidents.
- Deal with any hazards promptly: Slips and falls account for more than a third of all workplace accidents – mainly caused by preventable dangers like slippery floor surfaces, trailing cables and poor lighting. Reducing risk is usually straightforward, so act quickly to mop up spillages, repair broken steps and encourage staff to report maintenance faults straightaway.
- Invite feedback from staff on safety improvements: Create a safer workplace by consulting with staff on risk management, inviting feedback on safety issues and encouraging your team to flag up workplace hazards.
- Display safety information clearly: Make sure you stay within the law by clearly displaying safety signs for staff and customers – for example, directions to emergency exits, warnings about moving industrial vehicles or providing information on the location of first-aid equipment.
- Maintain comfort and cleanliness: Aside from providing basics such as clean working toilets, adequate lighting and drinking water, you must also provide appropriate tools. Try to provide the most ergonomic layout to reduce the chance of injuries such as repetitive strain injury (RSI). Buying cheap chairs and desks is a false economy if half your employees end up with back problems.
- Provide first-aid supplies: The minimum businesses are required to provide is a suitably stocked first-aid box, a person appointed to take charge of first-aid management and information for staff on first-aid arrangements. Ideally, you should arrange emergency first-aid training for the appointed person in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and helping someone who is unconscious or bleeding.
- Meet fire safety standards: You are obliged to carry out regular fire safety risk assessments and maintain a fire management plan that identifies possible hazards. Typical workplace breaches can include blocking fire exits, propping open fire doors and failing to train staff in evacuation procedures.
Learn from any mistakes. If someone is injured, however slight, take steps to ensure it cannot happen again. The law insists you keep a record of all accidents or illnesses that happen to your employees during working hours – this can be a simple record book or a computerised log.
- Keep safety procedures updated. Don’t forget to review your policies at least once a year or more often if you are expanding fast. Keep up to date with legislation – remember it’s your job to stay within the law.
- Train all employees on safety management once you have your protocols set up for avoiding injury: Make this training available to all new employees as they are hired and to any existing employees who have not yet completed it or who may have questions.