Simply stated, workplace health and safety come down to sensibly managing risks to protect your employees and your practice. While there are requirements by law and legislation to keep your staff safe, it’s also part and parcel of being a good employer and leader to make sure your staff aren’t at risk of injury as a result of the work they do for you. It’s not just your staff that health and safety are important for, it’s also necessary for the protection of any clients, visitors or sub-contractors who may work for you, do business with you or come into contact with your health practice in any way.
And that’s without considering the financial implications. According to the International Labor Organization:
“The economic impact of failing to invest in worker safety and health is nearly equal to the combined gross domestic product of the 130 poorest countries in the world.”
Illness and injury that occur at work can not only impact the quality of life of the person injured, it can also financially damage your business, impact productivity and harm your reputation.
3 Reasons to have Health and Safety Policies and Procedures
Ethics is a process of moral principles that affects how people make choices and manage their lives, and it’s broadly accepted that ethical reasons should be the main motivation for risk management. Ethical reasons for maintaining health and safety policies are based on the idea that an employer should take care of their staff.
Organisations must comply with the health and safety legislation and laws in their countries. There are strong legal reasons for employers to manage risks, practices must follow the law and set safety objectives to meet legislative obligations in order to avoid criminal charges and prosecutions. Practices across the world identify and enforce the most appropriate standards of health and safety in their workplaces in order to better position themselves to manage practice operations.
Events such as accidents or poor employee health can lead to significant direct and indirect costs for a practice. These costs can arise from direct risks, such as sick pay, impaired equipment repairs, fines, and legal fees, or indirect such as having to close the business due to illness or injury. The costs that are most difficult to calculate (such as the loss of productivity or impact on the practice’s reputation) are often much higher than costs that are easier to determine.
5 Steps to a Safer Workplace
Updated Written Policies
It’s important to have written health and safety policies and procedures for your practice, it helps managers properly risk assess the practice and put measures in place to control identified risks. Include a general statement on health and safety and how you intend to manage it. The document will detail who’s responsible for health and safety in the practice and will also cover risks to the practice, including what you’ve done to mitigate or eliminate risks. The policies should be reviewed annually or more often where necessary.
Make sure all employees are trained in keeping themselves and others healthy and safe and include it as part of new employee induction. Review this regularly – everyone should have regular health and safety refresher training, as well as training when any new policies are implemented.
Equipment and Maintenance
Employees need the right equipment to do their jobs properly and safely. Policies and procedures will support the correct use of equipment and reduce the risk of errors and damage.
Regular cleaning of work areas and facilities is imperative in managing a safe working environment, and prompt repairs will be necessary in an event of damaged furniture, equipment, fixtures and fittings, plumbing, air-conditioning or lighting.
It’s the practice’s duty to ensure as far as reasonably practicable:
- Safe access and exit, in an emergency as well as normal working conditions.
- Sufficient space for work to be performed safely.
- Adequate lighting for employees to work safely.
- Ventilation to control exposure to airborne contaminants.
Do a risk evaluation to determine what could happen if someone is exposed to a hazard. Then assess the likelihood of the event happening, as well as the consequences of an occurrence.
Consider aspects like:
- The severity of the danger.
- Whether existing risk control measures are adequate.
Now, determine what’s needed to improve risk control, and how soon the action is needed- this is risk assessment.
Adverse Event Reporting
Develop a “no blame” culture that encourages employees to report lapses, accidents and near misses. Investigate reports thoroughly and use these adverse events to improve policy and procedure, making sure that you implement and re-train employees regarding any updates.
6 Essential Health and Safety Policies to Get You Started
Employee Health and Wellbeing
Implement a policy and procedure to make sure employees are aware that the practice supports their well-being. This policy ensures that staff look after themselves and that they understand the benefits of taking breaks, vacations and staying away from work when they are ill.
Manual Handling Training
Nearly a third of workplace injuries are caused by manual handling. Employees need to know how to avoid injury when lifting or moving objects in the practice.
Employees need to know what to do in the event of a fire – how do they coordinate an evacuation, and when should emergency service be alerted?
What should be done if there are personal threats, robberies or other non-medical emergencies? Try to cover as many situations as possible to save staff from having to work it out while under stress.
If employees are working from home or doing home visits for clients, they need to understand how to complete a risk assessment and what processes are in place for keeping them safe.
Bullying and Harassment
A practice should commit to a fair and respectful work environment without fear of bullying. Employees will appreciate it when policies are in place that protects them from discrimination and inappropriate actions.
Employees need to understand the role that they have in keeping themselves and other team members safe and well at work.
Other Policies and Procedures
Consider what other risks your employees may come across depending on your practice type. An acupuncture clinic and a psychology practice will have different policy and procedure needs for health and safety.
We all know employers must provide a safe place to work, but once we’ve marked the tick box, that doesn’t mean we can simply disregard safety after that. We have to guarantee everyone is involved in policy-making, risk management and developing safe working procedures. This will ensure a workforce that’s entirely engaged in methods of workplace safety, with employees who are more likely to follow safe working methods.
Dealing with health and safety policies can seem tedious because, on the face of it, it can feel a bit like form-filling rather than doing what you really love, namely driving your business forward.
But when you understand the ethical, legal and financial implications, you can quickly see that it’s an area you can’t afford to overlook.
Luckily, with Power Diary, developing your practice policies needn’t be onerous. If you want a complete Practice Operations Manual for your clinic, you’ll get the pre-written documentation when you start with Power Diary. Over 100 policies and procedures – ready to go, or configure to suit your practice. Sign up for a Free Trial to see your Practice Manual now.