All employees have the right to work in a safe, functional environment where health and safety risks are continuously controlled, minimised and eliminated. In fact, research suggests that workers are far more productive in workplaces that regard health and safety as a priority. That said, every employee must execute safe working practices and adhere to health and safety policies at all times. Here is how you can be a conscientious employee and contribute towards a healthy, productive working environment.
Report Faulty Equipment
As an employee, you have a duty of care to report any faults you may encounter with company equipment – this is particularly crucial if your job involves operating power tools or plant machinery. However, a seemingly minor issue like a faulty plug socket could have disastrous consequences. Report faulty equipment by informing your supervisor or manager as soon as possible. Subsequently, you may be required to file a report, noting all the necessary details.
Wear The Correct PPE
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers must take “reasonably practicable” measures to ensure their employees are safeguarded from risk, including providing items such as gloves, eye protection, helmets and high visibility clothing. Although it is the employer’s responsibility to provide the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) required for employees to fulfil their roles, failure to comply could result in disciplinary action, dismissal, injury and long-term health complaints. If the provided PPE is damaged or unsuitable, you are entitled to refuse it until suitable alternatives are supplied.
Avoid Jewellery When Operating Machinery
Jewellery can be profoundly hazardous in the workplace. Long necklaces, loose braces and even rings can become snagged, causing severe injury. Similarly, long hair should always be tied back. Furthermore, jewellery can harbour harmful bacteria, a significant hazard if you work in the food or hospitality industry. As a general rule, keep jewellery to a minimum with a simple wedding band or religious items unless they pose a legitimate health or safety risk.
Report Injuries And Near Misses
Most workplaces carry out risk assessments to reduce the likelihood of work-related accidents and health complaints. Even if carrying out risk assessments is not part of your role, it is vital you adopt a proactive approach and report all health and safety risks – even minor hazards and incidents count. For example, all slips, trips and falls without injury class as near-miss incidents, indicating that something may need attention so subsequent incidents can be prevented.
Understand Your Workplace’s Fire Safety Procedures
Every workplace and commercial building should have a robust fire safety policy, including a tried and tested evacuation procedure in the event of an emergency. Most modern workplaces are equipped with fire extinguishers, a mandatory fire alarm system, and emergency led lighting design to aid evacuation. Fire drills should be carried out at least twice yearly to ensure staff, customers, and residents are fully aware of egress routes and assembly points. As an individual employee, you should comply with fire safety regulations according to your workplace’s relevant policies.
This also applies to other health and safety-related policies and procedures – when in doubt, ask for clarification. Carrying out tasks when you’re unsure of the correct procedures could result in injury to yourself and to others. It is always advisable to familiarise yourself with your company’s policies and practices to ensure you can perform your role safely, correctly, and efficiently.
Take Regular Breaks
Exhaustion can be exceptionally dangerous, particularly if your role involves operating heavy machinery or driving a vehicle. While it may be tempting to work through your break to catch up or to get a head start on certain tasks and projects, your body and brain cannot function at full capacity without rest and recuperation.
Don’t Come Into Work If You’re Unwell
The pandemic has forced many of us – both employers and employees – to reevaluate our perceptions regarding illness-related authorised leave. Many of us have forced ourselves to come into work when unwell, either due to financial difficulties or fear of malingering accusations. However, presenteeism can lead to loss of productivity, burnout and workplace outbreaks. If you suspect you have a contagious illness such as the common cold, stomach flu or COVID-19, you should take time off and avoid passing your condition onto your colleagues.