Health & Safety in the Workplace
In 2013 Irish businesses paid out €24 million in compensation for workplace accidents, averaging €28,886 per claim. This is an alarming figure for any organisation and potentially could be the difference between survival and insolvency. Not only is Health and Safety a legal and social responsibility, it also makes good business sense. Health & Safety is a significantly broad subject in business. This blog will look at several workplace safety issues.
Electrical faults account for a large number of workplace accidents. Electricity is used on a daily basis in the workplace. Anyone who is exposed to the dangers of electricity in the workplace needs to aware of the dangers associated with electricity.Insufficient training and faulty equipment are major reasons for injuries. Here are some steps to ensure that electrical appliances are safe in your workplace:
- Choose electrical equipment that is suitable for its working environment
- Carry out full staff training on equipment
- Carry out Portable Appliance Testing to ensure all portable equipment is maintained in a manner fit for safe use.
- Label fit equipment and remove out of service equipment
Legionnaires Disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia which can affect anybody. It is caused by bacteria which live in warm standing water. Understanding the risks associated with legionella bacteria and how it can affect your facility is imperative. In Ireland, an average of 10 cases of Legionnaires disease are reported every year. There are a number of preventative measures that eliminate the risk of this disease.
Sample water testing
- Routinely carry out testing of coolers, pumps and storage tanks. Proactively managing the risk of Legionella bacteria in cooling towers and water systems is more cost effective than responding to an outbreak retroactively
Keeping water systems clean
- Neglected or dirty cooling towers and tanks are more prone to the risk of potentially pathogenic bacteria, as they can thrive in dirty or stagnated conditions. It is important to routinely carry out cleaning and disinfection measures.
Maintaining water temperatures that prevent or minimise Legionella growth
- Water temperature can be a factor. Any water system, with the right environment conditions, could be a source for legionella bacteria growth. It is paramount between 20°c and 45°c, the temperature at which bacteria are most prolific. For fixtures that must be kept within this temperature range, it is necessary to flush them regularly with hot water to kill any bacteria that may have accumulated. This will also keep the water clean.
Whilst not intended for Ireland yet, the UK are introducing new sentencing guidelines towards the end of 2015 which will mean that organisations convicted of failing to control legionella risk substantial fines. It has never been more important to ensure that a legionella risk assessment is undertaken on your facilities.
Slips and trips
According to the European Agency for Safety and Health & Work, slips and trips are the largest cause of accidents in the workplace. Slips, trips and falls (excluding falls from height) were the most common workplace accident type dealt with by the Injuries Board in 2013 accounting for over one quarter (26.5%) of all awards for workplace accidents. There are a number of reasons for trips and falls in the workplace including manual handling, vehicles, exposed cables and wires and wet surfaces. It is important that regular risk assessments are carried out. This will ensure that there are no avoidable hazards in the workplace such as loose cables and leaks.