Dec 23 2013
As an employer, you are legally responsible for the health and safety of your employees. When your employee numbers run into the thousands, this means that your health and safety policies must be as robust as possible.
In 2010/11, workplace injury and ill health (not including cancer) cost society an estimated £13.8 billion. Around £5.7 billion of thiswas for financial costs, while the remaining £8 billion signifiesthe monetary value given to individuals’ ‘pain, grief and suffering’.
Practice Good Health And Safety
706 cases were prosecutedfor health and safety breachesacross Great Britain in 2012/13, leading to 672 convictions for at least one offence and total fines received of £15m.27 million working days were lost overall in 2011/12 due to work-related ill health or injury. The impact and cost of employee absence due to work related injury can bevast, so the need to identify risks and take precautions against them is clear.
Some industries have a higher rate of injury within the workplace than others, particularly transport and storage, construction and manufacturing, but every business poses its own unique risks to employee well-being.
You must have a risk assessment policy which identifiesrisks and outlines actions that protect people from harm and injury. Large companies need to have their policy written down. As well as looking at hazards in the workplace and measures that can be taken to prevent workplace injury, you should analyse workstations and ensure they meet minimum requirements, and provide health and safety training and information for employees.
The needs of new starters should also be taken into consideration. Employers should consider engaging an occupational health service provider to help their businesses properly meet legal requirements, make any necessary adjustments and assess suitability. They can also monitor workers who are exposed to health risks which have been identified within the workplace and advise on any action needed. Getting expert advice on occupational health could reduce the cost of employee absence.
Investing in a business health insurance plan can provide extra support for employees when they are ill, allow them to access health services at a time and place that suits them, and get them back to health and the workplace, thereby reducing the impact that sickness has on a company. Health insurance can be tailored for large organisations, and should also help to improve productivity within the workplace.
Your business has a legal duty to look after the mental welfare of your employees, as well as the physical welfare. While your HR department will have hired staff who were thought to be fit to cope with the daily pressures of their role, it’s important to prepare for time when stress affects their work.13.3 million working days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2011, and it’s one of the most common reasons for employee absence.
Your employees should feel comfortable speaking to their line manager, a member of your HR team, or another person about stress at work. You should have a health policy in place ready to cope with occupational stress. This should look at whether the employee has an appropriate workload, if they are being bullied or harassed, if their role has changed without proper training, if they can expect reasonable adjustment, what a return to work policy will be, and what other support will give them. Consider investing in a service which provides counselling, so your employees can get the help they need.
If your business does not do enough to reduce employee stress, your employee may have the right to take legal action against you, which could result in paying compensation.
What do you consider to be the biggest threat to employee health in your workplace?