Keeping Employees Safe and Healthy
Your employees provide invaluable support to your business, and it is the employer’s right to make sure they are cared for adequately. Aside from basic human rights, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 dictate that employee welfare must be provided for in the workplace.
It seems like common sense, but basic amenities can be subjective. In particular, comfort, hygiene and similar measures must be put into place to ensure employees are in a safe environment.
An employer must provide enough clean and working toilets to adequately service their workforce. Not only this, but there must also be hot and cold taps, soap and drying facilities. Mixed-gender facilities are allowed, as long as they are fully private and lockable from the inside.
Additionally, working areas must be kept clean, with waste being removed regularly. This can be in the form of bins which are emptied weekly – and although it’s not necessitated, you may want to consider giving the ability to recycle waste products, too.
An employer must provide safe drinking water for employees – whether this is from the mains or bottled. Although not necessary on-site, there may be extra provision to provide food for employees, especially if the work carried out is labour-intensive.
It is a legal requirement that pregnant women have somewhere to breastfeed and store their milk. Again, they must also have rest facilities available in a quiet space.
Employees are entitled to a comfortable working temperature, although the temperature guidance differs depending on the type of work undertaken. For non-physical workers, the temperature needs to be at least 16ºC, or at least 13ºC when they are doing more physically demanding work, like manual handling. To measure this, thermometers may be made visible in areas where work takes place.
Adequate lighting needs to be available in the workplace – to minimise risks as well as to provide for employee welfare. Eye strain and other visual impairments may be caused by a lack of correct lighting – as can staring at screens all day, so employees may choose to enforce regular breaks.
There must be enough space for working staff. Sufficient floor space, height and clear room are included in this, as well as freedom of movement. Official recommendations declare that there should be about 11 cubic metres per person, although for meetings or retail sales kiosks, this may be harder to achieve.
Appropriate rest areas must be provided for employees. Entirely dependent on the nature of the work, the very minimum is a space where workers can eat or drink. Especially in active professions like construction, such a space is necessary to ensure workers can take breaks to minimise the risk of accidents.
Although not always possible, there should be access to windows. If they do not provide enough ventilation, the company may need to invest in an air-conditioning or other ventilation system.
Along those lines, staff who wear uniforms or special clothing must have a changing area. Even in a regular office, there must be somewhere to hang wet clothes to dry.
There must also be a smoking policy in line with the law. Smoking is banned in all enclosed public spaces and commercial premises, but you may want to allow a designated smoking area for those employees who smoke.
Optimum safety offers a range of health and safety services that are tailored to your business and sector. If you need further information, advice or guidance, contact us.