As we continue to move into the new year, OSHCR (Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register) has warned of the five biggest risks to employee health and safety in 2018. These are things that you should be aware of now so that you can put procedures and practices in place to prevent or reduce these risks.
As you will see, many of them fall under the category of technology whether it be us using it or it creeping into the workplace as our replacement, as the digital world advances each year it introduces new and bigger risks to the workplace…
This may be a surprising one for many, but AI is becoming more and more prevalent in most workplaces and it may bring with it some anxiety for your employees. There have been many headlines recently about workers getting replaced by robots, and as we see artificial intelligence grow in popularity for many businesses, it is bound to make workers feel worried about the security of their job.
It’s important to keep an open line of communication between employer and employees to ensure that everyone knows where they stand and that concerns and queries can be voiced to reduce the risk of mental health issues.
Remote and Freelance Workers
Working from home or as a freelancer is fast becoming the most popular form of employment and this is set to continue throughout 2018. The risks attached to this include employees not being fully aware of health and safety procedures on the premises, or not being risk assessed when they are working remotely. When there are people popping in and out of the office, it’s easy to let health and safety practices slip – they may not have practiced a fire evacuation, for example – so it’s important to address all workplace procedures with every single employee in the form of a handbook or an induction process.
The rapidly growing industry is the digital and tech world which means workers are spending more and more time in front of computer screens and that has many health risks associated with it. If a work station has not been correctly set up it can cause neck and muscle strain and if you are spending a substantial amount of time at a computer, it can cause damage to the eyes and headaches.
Also, this minimal movement can be bad for physical health and it’s important to promote activity and a healthy lifestyle i.e. a gym membership as an employee benefit or fresh fruit in the office.
The number of flu cases shot up at the start of 2018, and it is something that can spread with ease and speed in a busy workplace. Healthcare professionals are warning about antibiotic resistance – where infections and viruses becoming resistant to antibiotics and cannot be treated – against things like pneumonia, TB and flu.
The best practices to put in place to help reduce the risks associated with spreading illness are supplying employees with hand sanitizer, encouraging them to wash their hands regularly throughout the day, making sure dirty tissues are immediately thrown in the bin, wiping down/cleaning the workspace and asking those who are ill to stay at home/work from home until the risk of spreading is low.
The advancement of machines in the workplace will continue to grow as technology does which means that automated machines and other advanced technology will become the norm. This is great for speed and ease of production but, for those who most work with the machinery, there are many health and safety risks to be aware of which means that extensive training is required.