6 Action Steps to Identify and Control Workplace Hazards

Regular health and safety inspections will enable you to identify hazards and deal with them before they go on to cause an accident. What’s more, they should confirm you are meeting the correct standards – and show everyone that you take office health and safety seriously. They will also help you meet the requirement to ‘monitor’ under Reg. 5 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Read on for 7 practical tips on how best to go about doing them.

Tip 1: Get people involved. No one knows more about the health and safety issues in a given location than the people who work there every day. As a result, individuals can often suggest solutions that are more likely to work in practice than those dreamed up by any ‘outsider’. Also, involving employees reinforces the principle that health and safety affect everyone – and require everyone’s input. So, talk to people as you go around: this will allow you to know their concerns and tap into their ideas.

Tip 2: Prepare properly. Before you start, pull out any assessments you have made – e.g. general hazards, fire – as well as any safety procedures you have in writing: all these will give you good steer as to what health and safety measures should already be in place. If, though, you find a mis-match between what the paperwork promises and the reality you see, note it as an action point straightaway.

Tip 3: Be systematic. It’s so easy to get side-tracked when doing a safety check – and miss key hazards. Stay on the right lines by using a checklist. Remember to cover ‘health’ as well as ‘safety’.

Tip 4: Take a fresh view. As you do your check, try to see the office from the point of a view of a new starter or a visitor. Look up: are there any loose ceiling tiles or leaks? Look down: is the floor clear of slip, trip and fall hazards? Are there unusual pongs that suggest the ventilation is not working properly? Listen: are noise levels high, spoiling concentration and adding to stress?

Tip 5: Use photos. Photos are a quick and easy way to capture what you saw. Use ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots as graphic evidence of actions taken and improvements made.

Tip 6: Respond positively to suggestions/concerns. People need to think their input will make a difference. Of course, implementing every single idea may not be possible, but it costs nothing to thank each person and respond to their suggestion. Make this positive by emphasising what can be done, not what you are unable to do: e.g. ‘we’ve looked at x but I’m afraid it isn’t possible because of y. But what we can do now to make things better is z’.

Make sure you don’t fall foul of health and safety law. Read Health and Safety Adviser and get practical advice and essential guidance on how to meet all of your workplace responsibilities.