A good workplace is full of opportunity to build your skills, your career and your finances. But it’s also a big risk of illness and injury for a lot of people. In the UK alone, 4.1 million working days are lost due to workplace injury. There’s also the long-term complaints and illness that can be a good deal harder to measure. Naturally, your well-being matters. If you’re worried that your employer isn’t taking it seriously enough, here’s what you need to keep an eye out for.
Bring up safety concerns with your employer
The first step is to be open in discussing the health and safety concerns of the office with your employer. If you’re particularly aware of the different hazards, you might even request to make working as a safety officer part of your duties. Most employers want to mitigate risks to their workers so they’re not liable for. Then it’s about identifying the different risks of accidents. For example, slips, trips and falls are second most likely fatal accident. Preventing them can be as simple as using wet floor signs or marking off areas where the walkways need to be cleared at all time. Sometimes, all it takes is bringing up safety concerns with your employer.
Is there a fire safety plan?
One of the more significantly dangerous risks in the workplace is that of a fire. Every employer should have a fire safety plan that they teach to their new employees. There are two steps to a good fire safety plan. Prevention and preparation. Prevention includes looking for and disposing of risks that can cause a fire. Frayed wires and overloaded plug sockets are included in this. As are any faulty electrics. Preparation is making sure the workplace is equipped to deal with a fire. Every employee needs to know the fire safety procedure. They need to be supplied with fire extinguishers and blankets in case of emergency. Make sure your employer is carrying out frequent drills. You don’t want to have to rely on the plan, but it’s good to know it.
Keep an eye on your mental health
It’s not all about physical health, either. Your mental health can be just as negatively affected by your place of employment. Employers need to be on the lookout for signs of work-related stress. But so do employees. Are you starting to make more mistakes than usual or getting angry and anxious easily at work? You might be suffering from work-related stress. Part of beating stress is getting support in the office and outside. Creating positive relationships. Looking after your health through exercise and good eating is important, too. If stress or anxiety are affecting your ability to work, it’s best to talk to your employer and your doctor. You’re legally protected from repercussions if you need a break due to mental health. Your employer should have noticed in the first place as part of their responsibility to your health.
Harmful work environments
It’s not just the work itself that can cause you stress, anxiety or depression at work. Sometimes it can very well be an environment set up by your colleagues or your superiors. Intentionally creating a hostile work environment through bullying, gossip, ostracizing, etc. is harassment. If it’s negatively impacting your emotional health, don’t be intimidated against reporting harassment. It’s not worth suffering mentally just to keep from rocking the boat. There a lot of ways to cope with the pressures of a harmful work environment, as well. Sometimes, a change in perspective can make it a lot easier to operate within.
Lighting is king
Besides injury and mental health, there’s also the concern of the physical work environment. How, over time, it may exacerbate conditions or negatively impact your health. Particularly in offices, the lighting can play a huge effect. Good lighting not only reduces your chances of eyestrain sitting in front of a computer. It also reduces the risk of getting into an accident due to poor visibility. It can even have benefits for the emotional health of everyone in the workplace. If you believe that lighting in the workplace isn’t suitable, ask your employer to make changes.
Long term pains
If you’re doing the same job day-in-day-out, it’s not eyestrain you’re at a risk of. Two of the most common long-term problems in the workplace are repetitive strain injury and trapped nerves. These conditions can strike in just about any kind of workplace. Whether you’re in the office or working on a construction site. If you’re doing the same job and kept in the same position, it can cause significant pain that even requires you to take time off work. But there are ways to combat it. One of the most important to make sure that you have the right equipment to fight it. For example, ergonomic chairs and tables in the office. These kinds of furniture ensure that you’re kept in a position that provides much less risk to you. Particularly in regards to how your back is supported.
Keeping your workstation healthy
Hygiene is another concern that more employees should be concerned about. Particularly when cold and flu season rears its ugly head. Hygiene is a personal responsibility, so all you can really do is take care of your end and ask your colleagues to do the same. This includes being doubly careful when washing your hands and using the bathroom. You should also consider using hand sanitizer before and after using your workstation. You can even clean your workstation with disinfectant so you can give it a quick clean in the morning before you get to work. If you’re concerned about it, you could ask your employee to provide hand sanitizer for everyone in the office. It’s a small financial consideration that can drastically reduce the amount of sick leave absences.
Take the time to get up and move
Activity is a huge part of health. You should be taking the time to get exercise out of work, but that’s not all. Sitting still or keeping one position is dangerous, as we have said. Not just because of trapped nerves and repetitive strain injury. It also has a dangerous effect on your heart, on your cholesterol and blood pressure. You should take the time to get up from your workstation and move every now and then. Consider walking somewhere away from the office for lunch. Similarly, try to keep yourself moving even when doing work. There are a lot of exercises you can do that won’t get in the way of your working day.
Disability in the office
Don’t just think about how the office contributes to your health, either. Think about how work deals with your already existing health attributes. Specifically, how it handles workers with disability. Depending on the nature of that disability, a workplace has to make reasonable adaptations. It needs to better remove the barriers that might prevent that employee from doing their work. Failing to do so is concerned a form of workplace discrimination. In those events, collect evidence that you have informed your employer of their responsibility and failed to meet it. The Employment Tribunal can compensate you for your trouble and enforce those reasonable adaptations in the end.
Safety equipment you need
An important part of safety in a lot of workplaces is the safety equipment involved. Safety equipment needs to be looked after in a variety of ways. First, the workplace should use signage as to which equipment is necessary for the location that it has to be used. Then, it should use an inventory system to keep track of the equipment, make sure that there isn’t an absence and know when to restock. Finally, the employer should endeavour to identify when security equipment is damaged and repair or replace it. Make sure that your employer has a full personal protective equipment plan. If they fail to prepare one, then workplace injuries are likely to be a lot more significant.
In the event of an injury
Sometimes, an injury will happen. You should be entitled to worker’s compensation in all kinds of industry. However, you may be entitled to more. If you suffer an accident at work that isn’t your fault, you should consider an accident lawyer. You can have your medical costs taken care of, be compensated for time off work and even for emotional damages. One of the most important parts of a successful claim is assigning responsibility. The evidence you compile will be a big part of that. If there are any witnesses, make sure you get their accounts of the accident. Otherwise, try to take photos after the injury. Keep a record of your medical records and medical bills, as well. The evidence is the key to a claim.
If your employer is failing in looking after the health and safety of the office, don’t feel like you don’t have options. Try to address it internally at first, but don’t be afraid to get a step higher with it. Your wellbeing is worth it.