Spotlight On – A – Z of Health and Safety

A-Z of Health and Safety

We’ve been having fun in the office trying to come up with a definitive A – Z of health and safety words and ideas. See if you agree with the words we chose…

A)     Asbestos 

Asbestos is still present in millions of homes and buildings – it can be in any house built before 2000. Asbestos exposure still kills around 5,000 workers each year. Whilst safe work with asbestos has come a long way, we still have a way to go. Read some of our asbestos articles here.


B)      Benefits

The benefits of good workplace health and safety are wide and far reaching. By implementing good policies, companies can avoid hefty fines and maintain a healthy workforce. For employees, a good health and safety culture can improve workplace morale, and allow workers to enjoy good health. There are plenty more benefits of implementing good health and safety policies – but that’s an article in itself!


C)      Construction

The last 40 years have seen a substantial reduction in the number of fatal injuries in the construction industry, but it remains a high risk industry to work in. Falls from height remain the biggest cause of fatalities in construction, followed by being struck by falling or moving objects, being struck by a vehicle, and structural collapses.


D)     DSE (Display Screen Equipment)

Health and safety isn’t all about climbing ladders, construction sites and factories. Every workplace has its own challenges – and an office environment is no different. Computer workstations can be associated with neck, shoulder and back pain, fatigue, and eyestrain.


E)      Extinguishers and Exits

Fire safety is an important aspect of health and safety management for all businesses, but unfortunately all too often it can be overlooked. Most fires are preventable, and those responsible for buildings can avoid them by sensibly managing the risks.


F)      First aid

It is an employer’s responsibility to make sure that employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or take ill whilst at work. Ensuring reasonable first aid provisions (such as appointed persons, trained first-aiders, a first-aid box) are available is an important aspect of these arrangements.  


G)     Gas

If gas appliances aren’t properly installed and maintained, the consequences can be severe. There are risks of fires, explosions, gas leaks, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Regulations are in place so that only Gas Safe registered engineers are legally allowed to carry out work on gas appliances.


H)     Hazard

A hazard is defined as anything that could cause harm to people or property – and a big part of risk management is about accurately identifying potential hazards. However, let’s remember that sensible risk management is not about stopping all activities with associated risks, but rather it’s about taking reasonably practicable steps to protect people from real harm and suffering.


I)        Injury

Thankfully, numbers and rates of injury at work have reduced significantly over the last decade. However, we still have a long way to go with an estimated 629,000 workers suffering a workplace injury in 2013/14. By continuing to strive for excellence in occupational health and safety, we can hope to drive these numbers down.


J)       Judge

The costs of poor health and safety practices can be huge, and they can result in court cases, hefty fines, and even jail sentences. You can read our reports on health and safety prosecutions here


K)      Kitchen

Food safety is an important aspect of catering businesses. Good practice has several benefits to companies. It can protect your business’ reputation, ensure you are complying with legislation, and even improve your business overheads by reducing food wastage.


L)       Ladders

Think of health and safety, and you may well think of work at height. ‘Work at height’ is defined as any place where, if precautions were not in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries, with common causes including falls from ladders and falls through fragile roofs. You can read some of our case studies on work at height here


M)   Manual Handling

Manual handling causes more than a third of workplace injuries. Manual handling covers a variety of activities across a variety of industries, such as lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying. It’s important to provide adequate advice, training and equipment in order to reduce the occurrence of issues such as musculoskeletal disorders, joint pain and repetitive strain injury.


N)     Noise

Noise in the workplace can have several consequences. Loud noises can damage employees hearing, which can be permanent and disabling. Prolonged noise exposure might also lead to tinnitus. And there may be more immediate issues – in a noisy workplace, communication may be difficult making warnings harder to hear and causing accidents and injury.


O)     Occupational health

When we think of ‘health and safety’, we often think of hazards, risk assessments and accidents – the ‘safety’ side of it. It’s sometimes easy to forget that ‘health’ is part of it too. Some of the main areas of focus for occupational health are asbestos, stress,  


P)      PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

PPE protects employees against health and safety risks at work. It covers things such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, hi-vis clothing, safety footwear etc. It’s important to remember that it’s not just about providing workers with PPE – you’ve got to train and educate them how to use it properly.


Q)     Quarries

Bet you didn’t think we’d come up with something for ‘Q’, did you! Quarrying remains one of the most dangerous industries to work in, with over 3500 reportable injuries since 2000.


R)      Risk Assessment

A ‘risk assessment’ shouldn’t be thought of as something that creates lots of unnecessary paperwork, full of health and safety jargon. Instead, put simply, it’s the process of thinking about what could go wrong and taking appropriate action to try and stop this. There may well be a need to write the assessment down – but the first process should always be thinking. Read more in our ‘Simply Put’ article on risk assessments.


S)      Stress

According to the HSE’s 2013/14 report, 11.3 million working days were lost to work-related stress, with 244,000 new cases reported during the period. The estimated cost to society is around £4 billion each year. Taking steps to better manage work-related stress can yield huge rewards for employers and employees alike. Read more about work-related stress in our article here.

T)      Trips

Slips, trips and falls about for 56% of all major injuries, with an average of 2 million working days a year being lost to such accidents. Guidance on causes and prevention can be found from the HSE here.


U)     Understanding

A good health and safety culture isn’t about having policies and procedures written down – it’s about making sure these policies are understood.


V)     Vehicles

Vehicles at work are a major cause of fatal and major injuries, with over 5000 workplace transport incidents reported each year. It’s estimated that a third of all road traffic accidents involve someone who is at work at the time. You can find out more about workplace transport safety here.   


W)   Workforce

A positive health and safety culture is one that includes your workforce. Encouraging their active involvement in safety policies will lead to better communication and better implementation of your procedures. The HSE have found that accident rates are lower in workplaces where employees genuinely feel like they have a say in health and safety matters.


X)      … okay, we’ll admit this one stumped us a bit. Discarded ideas included ‘X-Factor, Xylophone, Xerox. If you have any ideas, get in touch with us on twitter: @safety_matters.


Y)      Young people

Young people, new to the world of work, may be unfamiliar with workplace risks. It’s important to make sure they are provided with relevant training and information in order to undertake their work safely. In high-risk environments, additional safeguards may be necessary for young workers.   


Z)      Zero

In an ideal world, zero would be the number of accidents and incidents in the workplace. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world – and therefore health and safety isn’t about creating environments with zero risks. It’s about managing risks, in a reasonable and practicable manner.


So there we go – that’s our A-Z of Health and Safety! Would you have chosen the same words as us? Let us know on twitter @safety_matters what you think! 

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