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Written by
on 03 May 2012


Guidelines designed to limit and, ideally, prevent safety hazards at work are crucial for maintaining a safe workplace. Some people mistakenly believe that work safety guidelines are only necessary for fields like manufacturing and construction, where there can be extreme heat, cold, sharp tools, and heavy equipment.

However, that is far from true — all workplaces need work safety guidelines. If a business has five or more employees, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requires a formal, written health and safety policy.  Businesses smaller than five people, though not required to write up a formal safety policy, are still advised to have one in place that is known by all employees.

Start with a Competent Person

Although work safety guidelines can vary between fields, there are some that apply to any field. Here are work safety guidelines that all fields would benefit from following.

  • All employers must appoint a ‘competent person’ to conduct a full risk assessment. This assessment should point out any potential health and safety hazards employees might face at work. These important observations should then inform a detailed set of guidelines for the specific workplace in question.
  • Measures must be taken to minimize possible injury or loss of life in the case of a fire. This can include posting signs that show fire exit routes, keeping those pathways clear, and visibly marking all fire exits. There should also be a fire extinguisher on site.
  • Ensure that workplaces are well ventilated and clean, and that temperatures are comfortable for workers.
  • Keep all rooms suitably lit, so that work can be completed without any kind of visual impairment.
  • Make sure all workstations are appropriate for the employees’ work.  They should be kept in good working order, as must any equipment within it.
  • Make a first-aid box readily accessible in case of minor injury.
  • Accommodate employees with disabilities by making reasonable adjustments to the workplace. If steps are not taken, it could prove to be a safety hazard for the employee(s) concerned.
  • Ensure all workers have adequate time to rest throughout the workday, so that fatigue does not compromise their safely. Offer breaks for meals, as well as a suitable and sanitary area to consume food and drink. Workers must also receive the holiday time to which they are entitled.
  • Be mindful of employees who work remotely or alone. Take care to ensure that they are also working in a safe, healthy environment.

It is not sufficient to merely have guidelines. They must be implemented, and workers must be trained to understand the steps taken to ensure their safety. Special care should be taken to bring new hires up to speed, especially workers who are new to the workforce, or returning to work after an extended absence. They might need additional assistance getting safely acclimated to the workplace.

All businesses, regardless of field, must have guidelines in place to ensure that they facilitate the safest possible environment for their workers. Long and short term goals should be established to ensure that these guidelines accommodate all workers as well as any changing work conditions.

Guest post contributed by Charlotte Howard, on behalf of Customer Care Australia.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.