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IWM wanted to demystify the health and safety aspects of the business. This is because, all too often people consider the challenge to be about bureaucracy and not keeping people safe. Furthermore, health and safety obligations and plans are different for different companies. For instance, it depends on the industry as well as the size of company. Additionally, other factors such as business structure and environment can affect the company’s obligations and therefore their policy.
IWM wanted to ensure it could meet its potential legal obligations as well as its moral ones. Firstly, we needed a health and safety bible. For instance, a written Health and Safety Policy and risk assessments that we could continually refer to or update.
Foresight is better than hindsight. Therefore, preventing and mitigating risks is easier and less expensive, than dealing with the a workplace accident. IWM implemented risk assessment procedures as an example. On a basic level, while walking around and we were able to identify potential harm and hazards. In addition, utilising others to get a clear picture in case anything is missing.
Furthermore, IWM found obvious risks. For instance, fork lifts going into potential areas of conflict. Therefore, to alleviate the hazard, we created separate walkways for pedestrians to avoid collisions. In addition, due to large machinery, such as heavy duty press noise, we took decibel readings. Consequently, there seemed to be a potential risk. So, controls were put in to place for example: ear defenders, guards etc.
Risks were assessed, recorded and controls put in place. Furthermore, risk assessments were distributed and made readily available and diarised for annual checks. Or, when is reasonable. Many jobs such as employees keeping their area safe and tidy, are daily jobs. Therefore, the emphasis has been put on the individuals as well as the team working together.
IWM made a written record of these risks and listed preventative measures. However, we didn’t include everyday hazards. This is because, these are assumed. The Health and Safety Executive are also aware that not every risk can be controlled or avoided. But, they ask you to take reasonable steps where you can.
IWM put in place procedures to continue to oversee all processes. In addition, check that the measures remain in place and any amendments and improvements are documented. This included a desire to stay informed about changes in government guidance, which we could take utilise.
For us it was essential to communicate with our employees. For instance, consulting them and keeping them updated with the health and safety policy. It can be difficult for them to buy into Health and Safety if they don’t have a copy or understand the purpose. Therefore, training, documentation and toolbox talks were initiated. It may be worth putting a clause in their contracts stating that any breach of health and safety obligations is a disciplinary offence. As the buck ultimately stops with you. IWM are currently working on environmental changes. This would ensure facilities are as good as they can be with regard to cleaning, space and ventilation for instance.
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