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How to Create a Safe Work Environment for Employees

Read on to discover the crucial principles behind the safe movement of people and how to proactively identify and address potential hazards.

March 2024

 

Employers are legally required to protect their employees and members of the public from hazards as they move around the workplace. The movement of people is a regular occurrence in the workplace, which if not done safely, can cause serious injury to service users and staff. The NEBOSH Level 6 Diploma covers this process in great detail, and we’ve distilled some of the core elements of creating safe work environments in this article to get you started.


Why Is the Safe Movement of Employees Important?

Employees are the most valuable asset to any organisation. They keep the wheel moving, and if their safety isn’t prioritised, employers open themselves up to all kinds of legal, moral, and financial repercussions.

If you are looking for further information about the broad range of responsibilities employers and employees have in health and safety, read our blog on the topic. 

Employees cannot be expected to complete their duties if they are constantly fearful of hazards and risks. It slows productivity, causes delays and lowers morale. That is without mention of the severe consequences to an employee's life should an accident occur.

Where the safe movement of employees is concerned, there are several hazards that employers need to be aware of when conducting their risk assessments.


What Are the Main Hazards of Moving Around the Workplace?

Slips, Trips and Falls

Slips, trips, and falls are the most common types of accidents and injuries, accounting for a third of all workplace accidents. Despite their reputation, they often go overlooked, and their severity is drastically underestimated. 15% of accidental deaths and 29% of non-fatal injuries happen as a result of slips, trips and falls. They are not to be played down.


Falling from Height and Falling Objects

A third of fall-from-height incidents in the UK involve the use of ladders and stepladders, accounting for 14 deaths and 1200 major injuries to workers each year. Additionally, objects falling from height onto people pose a serious threat to employees and members of the public.


Striking Against Stationary Objects

It sounds unusual at first, but striking stationary objects is a common workplace accident that can be made even more severe when the movement of people and objects is concerned. Vigilance is needed in busy work environments involving lots of equipment, e.g., construction sites. Even in office environments, everyday objects like desks, chairs, bins and other stationary objects can become dangerous if certain conditions are met.

Further details on other hazards in the workplace outside of moving around the office are available in our ‘Top 10 Workplace Risks and How to Combat Them’ article. You’ll also find a supplementary poster for display to help keep employees reminded of what to look out for.  


What Are the Legal Requirements for Safely Moving People in the Workplace?

Each room should have enough free space to allow workers to get to and from their workstations and move freely and comfortably.

In the UK, it is recommended that a minimum of 11 cubic metres of space should be allowed for each worker in a workroom. The legal requirement is for ‘sufficient unoccupied space,’ so these figures may be inadequate if much of the space is filled with furniture or other fixtures and fittings. Other regulation requirements include adequate lighting, cleanliness, and storage, as these can also pose a risk if not properly managed.


How Can Employers Create a Safe Work Environment for Employees?

Employers looking to create a safe work environment should first complete a comprehensive risk assessment. Thorough risk assessments are the bread and butter of every health and safety professional, which is why they must be your first step

Employers should check that their floors and traffic routes are well-constructed, strong, and stable to safeguard against slips, trips, and falls. They should look for any surface irregularity that could cause a person to lose their footing and cause an accident. Are there any trip obstacles in the way? Is this walkway heavily used, and is there a possibility of wear and tear? Etc.

Secure fencing should be provided to prevent people from falling from heights. This fencing should also be sufficient to prevent objects from falling onto people below. More simply, it is better to ask if working at height is absolutely necessary for the work that is being completed. Cut the problem at its source if there is an alternative means of completing any tasks at height.

Our NEBOSH Level 6 Diploma course provides learners with incredible insight and intuition into health and safety. It’s also essential for those looking to progress to the next stage of their career. Our course below has the best tutors and scientifically backed learning methods to ensure learners have all the tools they need to realise their career ambitions.


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