Whether you run an office, warehouse, construction site or factory, your mantra needs to be the same: safety comes first. Workplace health and safety isn't just a nice idea, it's a necessity, both for your staff and for you as an employer.

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Create safety by design

It might seem obvious, but far too many workspaces are open invitations for disaster. With a bit more care and forethought your workplace can eliminate some risks and minimise others. If you operate machines representing any kind of risk, position them in low traffic areas and make them out of bounds for all but authorised personnel.

If you have a large inventory, is it safely stacked with easy, ground level access to frequently used items? And whatever business you run, is your workflow as efficient as it can be? Or are some processes stumbling over each other in ways that put staff at risk?

Keep it clean

That means dust, grime, oil, water and anything else that can create an unstable surface. Maintain a daily visual throughout your operation and encourage workers to clean up spills immediately, not when they get around to it.

Dispense with clutter. Even a single unexpected obstacle in an office corridor can turn a into a nasty compensation claim.

Sweat the small stuff

Your company should already have an effective plan to minimise and manage major accidents. But what about all those niggling injuries – back strains, cuts and bruises – that make up the bulk of your staff downtime and put constant minor blemishes on your safety record?

Teach staff to lift properly. Fix any sharp edges and unprotected equipment issues and make sure all staff wear protective clothing where appropriate.

Consult the experts

No, not your local health and safety inspector; your staff. No one knows the dangers lurking around every corner more than them. Involve them in the safety process. Consult them about their individual areas and their unique set of uncertainties. Then make each and every area of your operation safe.

Put safety on annual review

Things change. Staff change, equipment and processes evolve. What was safe in September 2015 might not be in January 2016. So revisit every aspect of your safety program at least annually – preferably more - and give it a thorough medical.

Analyse safety data from each department and act on any worrying trends. Likewise act on any positive trends and implement them company-wide if necessary

Author: Grant King, Industry Search writer

Edited: Katie Carr

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