by Klaus Allion, Managing Director at ANT Telecom
According to recent statistics from RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations),144 workers in the UK were killed during 2017/18. A concerning statistic, however when compared with data from 20 years ago, the number of worker fatalities within British industries has almost halved. This is thanks to the increased regulations and growing health and safety concerns amongst businesses. However, despite this issue becoming more of a business priority, the number of workers killed at work over the past 5 years has remained broadly level – averaging at 141. These statistics reveal that more needs to be done in order to reduce the number of fatalities further.
The onus for drastic change and improved safety measures is not down to one specific sector or industry, as no industry is immune to risk. ATEX environments, for example, are exposed to potentially explosive atmospheres and lone workers, such as teachers, security and medical staff, those that regularly perform their role without supervision from colleagues, are all exposed to varying degrees of risk.
In particular, lone workers are up against increased levels of risk in comparison to those working in teams of multiple employees. And this risk is only compounded further without appropriate levels of support through health and safety processes and devices which ensure that in the event of an incident on site, workers can quickly and easily call for help.
Proactive safety culture
First and foremost, safety must be a paramount consideration for all businesses in every industry. In the UK, many businesses’ health and safety processes are supported by strict regulations. For some organisations, these regulations are treated as a tick-box process to follow in order to be legally compliant. Instead, to achieve a better safety record and improve safety in the workplace, businesses should adopt safety regulations as a part of their culture and promote it to employees to ensure they fully understand the risks if they do not comply. By integrating these safety procedures as part of an employee’s day to day tasks will help to position them as less of a chore and more of an essential task within their role.
Not only can a proactive safety culture reset the workers’ mindset towards safety but the health and safety manager can also foster a positive practice of continually looking to identify new ways in which to improve safety processes further, through incremental process improvements or technology overhauls. Completing regular safety audits are a good way to evaluate procedures throughout the organisation and also review any issues or changes since the most recent audit, such as hiring new staff or introducing new machinery. Allowing employers to regularly review safety practices and keep on top of any potential risks that could endanger the workforce.
Technology is key
In addition to a mindset change in safety culture, technology solutions are also a key element to safeguarding staff. Depending on the environment and the job functions of employees, there may be several safety systems that should be implemented such as alarms to alert in case of fire or intruders trying to illegally access the building.
Personal safety devices are also essential, particularly for those organisations that employ lone workers. Without regular contact from colleagues, lone workers cannot rely on other members of staff to raise the alarm in the event of an incident. Therefore, lone worker safety devices are an essential tool to ensure that isolated members of the workforce are supported. These can come in a number of different forms, including integrated panic buttons that open up communication channels with managers, and tilt sensors that can detect when the user is in a horizontal position and automatically raise the alarm to nominated individuals to quickly respond and resolve the situation.
Don’t allow for too little too late
Whilst the UK is ranked the lowest for fatal injury rates in Europe, these low statistics should not be an excuse for organisations to become complacent when it comes to the wellbeing of their staff. As businesses continue to grow and develop, health and safety hazards that could lead to disaster grow too, if businesses are not embracing a proactive safety culture. With a continued focus on improvements to safety, especially those industries that employ large numbers of lone workers, the amount of injuries and fatalities across UK industries can be reduced even further.