Health and Safety Buying Guide

Contents

Introduction

What is health and safety at work?

Your responsibilities as an employer

Choosing what health and safety equipment your business needs

Fire extinguishers

First Aid

Health & Safety Literature

PPE

Hygiene

Further information

Introduction

Getting your head around the health and safety requirements in your business needn’t be an arduous task. Most of health and safety is simply using common sense, and taking appropriate steps to ensure you are doing all you can. In this guide, we’ll take you through what health and safety is all about, as well as outlining what your responsibilities as an employer really are. We’ll help you identify which health and safety items your business is likely to need through simple assessment and understanding.

We’ll talk you through some of the most commonly purchase health and safety products, and will help you understand the pros and cons of different items in these categories. That way, if you do decide you need to purchase something of that type, you’ll be able to make an intelligent, well informed choice.

Our guide is designed to help you make the best decisions for your business, as well as giving you a deeper understanding of what products are out there to help you maintain excellent health and safety. If you are unsure of what you need, our team are happy to help, but do also talk to others in your industry and consult the HSE website for specific advice on compliance.

What is health and safety at work?

When we talk about health and safety at work, we don’t just mean taking the stairs instead of the lift to stay healthy. We are almost always referring to the UK Act of Parliament which is known as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Sometimes referred to as HASAW or HSW, this legislation places a duty on all employers to ensure the health, welfare and safety at work of all their employees, as far as is practical.

Good health and safety practices include:

  • Providing safe entry and exit points to the building
  • Ensuring maintenance and operation of equipment and machinery is up to date and safe
  • Ensuring dangerous substances are used, handled and stored safely
  • Provision has been made for staff welfare in the workplace
  • Staff are trained appropriately to uphold good health and safety

To read the legislation in full, visit the HSE website.

In addition to this, there are three other pieces of legislation you should be aware of that relate to the health and safety of your employees at work:

  1. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999: This legislation places a duty on employers to manage risks to their employees and other people in the building that come about due to the nature of their work. Employers must put in place tools and training for dealing with emergencies and may need to monitor the health of their workforce. More information on this here.

 

  1. Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995: Also known as RIDDOR, this legislation states that employers must report work related diseases, major injuries, deaths and dangerous occurrences when they happen. This is done via a contact centre on 0845 0300 9923, or via the website. More information is available here.

 

  1. Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992: These regulations place a duty on employers to ensure the working environment is safe and appropriate for the task before any work is carried out there. This means working to eliminate controllable risks and to manage unavoidable hazards to keep your workforce safe. More information is available here.

For most employers, these regulations and legislations are simply common sense. If you naturally remove trip hazards from your office floor, make sure you have up to date fire extinguishers and take other small measures to ensure a safe working environment, chances are you are not breaching health and safety law.

However, there are some things you must do and some things you must own in order to stay compliant. We’ll help you figure out what and how in this guide.

Your responsibilities as an employer

Keeping your staff safe is your responsibility, but it doesn’t have to feel like a chore. When approached with care and consideration, you will find that most staff are very open to helping you make their workplace safer and more pleasant. Here are some of the things you need to do as an employer to ensure you are taking care of your responsibilities:

  1. Name a competent person

In many cases, particularly where you have identified your business as a low risk business, you could name yourself as the competent person for health and safety. If you are very busy, you might want to name a senior member of staff, and if your business is high risk, you may need to bring in an expert to ensure you are staying compliant.

  1. Create a policy

Writing down your health and safety policy not only helps you to think through the issues in a competent, logical way. It also serves to demonstrate your commitment to your staff, customers, trustees and partners, in providing a healthy, safe working environment.

If this all sounds a bit daunting, HSE have developed an example health and safety policy which you can use as inspiration. There is also a policy template available on their website which will help you approach things in a methodical way.

Your policy should be updated at least once a year, and should form the backbone of you and your employee’s behaviour on site. If you have less than five employees working with you, you don’t need a written health and safety policy, but it can be good practice to do it anyway.

  1. Assess the risks in your workplace

Risk assessments don’t need to take long or to be an arduous process. All you need to think about is what there is in your business that could cause harm to people, and see if you are taking reasonable steps to prevent that harm. HSE provide an online risk assessment tool which will be effective for the majority of businesses.

  1. Talk to your employees

You must consult your employees on health and safety, but it doesn’t need to be a big deal. You should talk to them about the work they do and how to stay safe, ask them about any risks they have identified and discuss the best ways to provide them with suitable information and training. Listening is the most important skill here, and doing something as simple as including health and safety on your meeting agendas is often enough to throw up any issues before they become major problems.

  1. Provide training

Your employees need to know how to work safely without risking their health, so it’s your job to provide training to ensure they can do that. This may be as simple as disseminating guidelines on lifting heavy loads, or could be more complex, such as in-depth training on operating heavy machinery. You should also look to provide instruction in how to deal with emergency situations, and should keep a record of what training has been undertaken, so that you can quickly see when a refresher may be needed.

  1. Provide the right facilities

You must provide the right facilities for your workers. These include:

  • Welfare facilities such as toilets, basins, drinking water and rest areas
  • Health issues such as ventilation, lighting, space and clean workspaces
  • Safety issues such as maintenance of work equipment, storage and safety glass

The precise actions you need to take must be determined yourself. Assessing risks and hazards as well as preparing the workplace appropriately for staff is all part of your ongoing vigilance and understanding of health and safety issues.

  1. Make arrangements for first aid

You must have, in your workplace, a first aid box which is suitably stocked with the items you are most likely to need. You also need to appoint a person to coordinate first aid matters, and must provide information to all employees regarding first aid. This can be done through leaflets, posters and / or training as necessary.

Be aware that major accidents and work-related illnesses must be reported to HSE. You should keep an accident and injury record book so you can refer back to it later if required.

  1. Display the current health and safety law poster

It is a legal requirement to display the health and safety law poster in your place of work. Places like the staff break room or reception area are good locations for this. If it is not practical to put up a poster, you can issue every member of staff with the information in the form of a leaflet or pocket card, downloadable or orderable from the HSE website.

  1. Have insurance

Anyone who has employees working for them should have in place a policy of employer’s liability insurance. You can buy this through brokers, trade associations or insurance companies directly. If you don’t take out this insurance, you risk having to foot the bill yourself if someone becomes sick or injured during the course of their job, and it is determined that your negligence was at fault.

  1. Stay informed

It is your duty to keep up to date with the latest legislation, best practice and advice for your industry. The best place to do this is via the HSE itself, who provide regular updates via free ebulletins, RSS news feeds and podcasts.

Following these simple steps will ensure you’ve done everything you can to maintain good health and safety practice at work. It will mean you remain compliant, avoiding fines and problems with complaints, but more importantly it will ensure you and your staff are safe, and able to do your work in a healthy, pleasant environment.

Choosing what health and safety equipment your business needs

Your first step in assessing what health and safety equipment you need is to consider what sort of business you are. Most businesses should fall comfortably into one of two categories:

  1. Low risk: Shops, offices, libraries, retail centres etc.
  2. High risk: Construction companies, handling chemicals, dangerous machinery, sharp instruments etc.

Once you have identified which of these categories you fall into, you will find it easier to start planning what you need.

If you class yourself as a high-risk business, it can be a good idea to engage with a health and safety professional or consultant to assist you with staying compliant and protecting your workers. Low risk businesses can almost always manage health and safety themselves, only requiring a small amount of investment in equipment and tools.

The risk assessment

Choosing the type of equipment you need will be informed by the risks that are presented during the course of a normal day’s work. The easiest way to get this done is by conducting a site wide risk assessment, designed to highlight where and what the potential risks are. It doesn’t need to be an in depth or time-consuming activity, but it does need to be done regularly and thoroughly if you want to be confident that you’re doing enough to protect your workforce.

Start your risk assessment by:

  • Doing a walk-around of your business, and writing down all the things that could potentially harm people.
  • With each thing you identify, write down who could be harmed and in what way.
  • Think about what can be done to minimise each of the risks you’ve identified
  • Think about how you are going to handle the danger presented by those hazards you cannot eliminate or control
  • Writing down what you discovered, so that you can review it next year and see if anything has changed.

HSE have produced a template form to help you record your risk assessment, and have lots more advice and guidance on this process in their Risk Assessment Guide.

The equipment

Most businesses will require some or all of the following items:

  • Fire extinguishers: Whether you only need a couple of basic water based extinguishers or several different types of equipment to manage your risks, fire extinguishers are a crucial piece of kit. Any business can be a fire risk, whether you’re a shop, office, school or otherwise, so don’t overlook this in your plan.
  • First aid equipment: Whether your needs can be met with a simple first aid kit, or whether you need to equip a full sick bay for your business, is something you’ll need to decide. You must have first aid readily to hand on your premises, but what is contained in the kits, and how many kits you need, will come out of your assessment of your needs.
  • Health and safety literature: Aside from the mandatory display of the Health and Safety Law poster, you may also wish to display other information about health and safety around your premises. From first aid tips to guidance on lifting safely, these types of items can be highly beneficial to your employees as a quick reference guide.
  • PPE equipment: If you work in a place where people are at risk of damage to their eyes, toes, skin, hair, hands or other body parts, you will almost certainly need to invest in PPE equipment for their use. Personal Protective Equipment covers everything from steel toe capped boots through to hard hats and reflective jackets.
  • Hygiene equipment: One of the best ways to maintain good health is to maintain excellent hygiene, so you should look to invest in ways to keep your work space clean and germ free. Gloves, hand wash and antibacterial wipes are inexpensive, and can make all the difference to the hygiene of your business.

Let’s take a look in more detail at each of these types of products, and what you need to know about them before making your purchase decision.

Fire extinguishers

All businesses in the UK should be fitted with fire extinguishers if there are more than five people working in the building. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 also requires that a fire risk assessment be carried out by a suitably qualified person on a regular basis.

The number of fire extinguishers you’re going to need depends greatly on the size of your building, and the general rule of thumb is that there should be one water based extinguisher per 200 square metres of floor space. The extinguisher must meet the minimum fire rating of 13A, which is written near the top of the label of any approved extinguisher. If the number is higher, it means it exceeds these minimum requirements.

Once you’ve purchased enough water based extinguishers, you should consider individual risk areas which may need other types of fire equipment. For example, an area with a high electrical fire risk will need a CO2 based extinguisher, and a cooking area where a pan fire is likely will benefit from a fire blanket.

Types of fire extinguishers

There are different types of fire extinguisher you can choose from, depending on the type of risk present in your building or that specific area. Your fire risk assessment should note the type of fire which is a risk, which can be one of six main types:

  • Class A – fires involving solid materials such as wood, paper or textiles.
  • Class B – fires involving flammable liquids such as petrol, diesel or oils.
  • Class C – fires involving gases.
  • Class D – fires involving metals.
  • Class E – fires involving live electrical apparatus.
  • Class F – fires involving cooking oils such as in deep-fat fryers.

Once you know where the risks are and what they are, you can begin to look at different types of fire extinguisher products to find the best solution for your business.

Water extinguishers

These are one of the most cost-effective ways to deal with type A fires, and come in a number of different types:

  • Water jet: These spray a jet of water at the burning materials, cooling them down and stopping the fire. You should spray them at the base of the fire.
  • Water spray: These use a very fine mist of water droplets which helps to smother the fire and stop the burning.
  • Water with additives: These are water sprays that have certain chemicals added to reduce the surface tension of the water. This means they can soak into the burning materials more effectively, therefore a smaller extinguisher can be purchased which will be just as effective as a water only extinguisher.
  • Mist or fog extinguishers: These use the finest droplets of water, giving each droplet more surface area than with a spray extinguisher. The downside is that the water is less heavy, and therefore may take more time to soak into the source of the fire.

As previously mentioned, the recommended density of water extinguishers is one per 200 square metres of floor space in your building. All water based extinguishers have a red label.

Foam extinguishers

Foam fire extinguishers are suitable to use on both class A and B fires, so are a good choice if there is a risk of a liquid fuel fire in that area. They work by smothering the fire, blocking access to oxygen and taking away the fuel needed for the fire to continue. They are more expensive than water based extinguishers, but are also more versatile, so can be a good choice if your business carries a risk of petrol or diesel fires.

All foam fire extinguishers have a cream coloured label.

Powder extinguishers

Powder extinguishers are a good all-purpose fire extinguisher which can fight classes A, B and C fires. They can be used on fires which involve electrical equipment, but they don’t cool the fire so there is a risk of reignition once the application stops.

Powder extinguishers cause loss of visibility and can cause breathing problems if the powder is inhaled. For this reason, they are not usually recommended for internal uses, unless there is no other option available. They carry a blue label.

CO2 extinguishers

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extinguishers are the best choice for premises where there is a lot of electrical equipment and therefore a risk of electrical fire. It may be worth keeping one in your server room. They don’t create a risk of breathing problems and don’t leave all the residue and mess that comes with a powder extinguisher, and can also be used on class B fires involving petrol, paraffin or other flammable liquids.

They work by smothering the fire and cutting off the oxygen supply, thereby starving the fire of fuel and causing it to go out. They carry a black label.

Wet chemical extinguishers

These are specifically for use on class F fires, which are fires involving oils and fats, often in kitchens or cooking areas. Fires started in chip pans, deep fat fryers and other cooking apparatus need to be dealt with differently from other fires, as spraying them with water will not do the job. The wet chemical works by knocking out the flames, cooling the oil itself and then reacting to form a soapy solution to seal the surface and prevent reignition.

These can also be used on class A and B fires, and carry a yellow label.

Fire blankets

All fire blankets in the UK should conform to BSEN 1869:1997 standards, and should be kitemarked products to ensure safety. They are simple devices, designed to smother a fire and cut off its air supply, causing it to go out. They are generally made from one of two materials:

  • Fibreglass: Effective for containing small fires, such as a frying pan fire.
  • Wool: Usually larger and better for putting out clothing fires and fires on a larger scale

They have a fire-retardant surface which works to take the oxygen out of the equation. In most cases, fire blankets are used to smother fires, but they can also be used to shield people who are trying to escape from a fire. Unlike extinguishers, there is no need to have them maintained, no expiry date and there is no chance of the misfiring.

How to use fire blankets

Once you’ve taken delivery of your chosen fire blankets, your next step should be to explain to your workforce what they are and how to use them. After all, they’re no good to anyone if nobody knows what to do. Here’s a quick run-down of fire blanket operation to help you successfully fight any fire in your business.

  • Find the fire blanket and grab the two tags on the envelope to remove it from its mounting
  • Locate the corners of the blanket and hold two corners
  • Position your hands palms out and down, so that the blanket is covering your hands
  • Rotate your hands inwards and up, so that your palms are facing upwards
  • Lift the blanket high to take most of its weight and protect your face
  • Approach the fire, keeping the blanket between you and the heat
  • Position one foot forwards and one back for stability, then slowly lower the blanket towards the fire
  • Let the bottom of the blanket touch the closest area where fire is taking place, then slowly lower the rest of the blanket over the fire area
  • Do not be tempted to throw the blanket at the fire, as you risk not covering it properly or knocking the source of the fire to the floor, causing it to spread
  • Fully cover the flames with the blanket and, if necessary, find a metal object to place on top to prevent it slipping off
  • Turn off the heat or any other source which could cause reignition
  • Do not attempt to carry a pan which is on fire, as this motion could fan the flames and make the situation much worse
  • Never use water to put out a pan fire or chemical fire

It’s a good idea to run through a practice with your team so that everyone is confident using the fire blanket. Hopefully you will never have to unpack it, but if you do, it’s best to be prepared.

To accompany your purchase of a fire blanket, you should consider purchasing signage to make it easy to find in case of emergency. We supply not only high visibility fire blanket signs, but also glow in the dark fire blanket signs which can be useful if the fire causes the power to cut out.

First Aid

Understanding first aid in the workplace can make the difference between having a minor accident and the situation evolving into a major incident. Larger businesses may need a qualified first aider on site, or more than one, but that doesn’t mean other people shouldn’t be aware of what to do in the event of an incident.

Keeping the right equipment well stocked up, as well as keeping people’s skills and knowledge up to date, could do more than just ensure your compliance. The right first aid administered in a crisis could even save somebody’s life.

What is first aid at work?

No matter how meticulous you are with your health and safety policies and procedures, sometimes people do become ill at work or can suffer an injury. Knowing what to do in this situation is crucial if you want to ensure they are well cared for, and providing first aid until the professionals arrive can make the difference between life and death.

You don’t need to be a doctor to administer first aid. In fact, everyone in the workplace should be made aware of the basic things they can do to save a life. As an employer, your responsibility is to ensure that the structures and foundations have been put in place to provide functional first aid support, should anything happen in the workplace.

What must you do?

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 specify that you must supply the right sort of first aid equipment, the right facilities and the people to cope in case someone is hurt or becomes ill in the workplace. As a bare minimum, this means you need to provide:

  • A first aid kit, stocked with the right things based on your risk level
  • Information to your employees regarding first aid
  • Someone to take care of first aid arrangements

What you need to provide specifically will depend on the type of business you operate and the risks that surround your employees, visitors and other people.

Assessing your first aid needs

In order to assess what is required of you in terms of first aid, you will need to conduct a basic appraisal of what your business does and who is working there. Take into consideration:

  • What hazards and risks are associated with your work activities
  • How big the organisation is and whether it has a history of accidents
  • The distribution of the workforce and what they are doing
  • Whether you have lone workers and what different working patterns exist
  • What will you do if your first aider is absent or on holiday

There may be other risk factors specific to your business, such as the distance from the nearest hospital or difficulty in accessing ambulance services. There is more detailed advice on conducting a first aid needs assessment at the HSE website.

The first thing to look at is if you need a qualified first aider on site, or more than one, or if an appointed person is sufficient. An appointed person is someone responsible for first aid management, so checking that the kit is stocked up and taking responsibility for coordinating first aid in the event of an injury or illness.

In a low risk business with less than 25 employees, you don’t need a qualified first aider on site. You do, however, need at least one appointed person. From 25 – 50 people, you’ll need at least one first aider trained in Emergency First Aid at Work, and an appointed person. Larger companies with over 50 employees need to have at least one first aider for every 100 people on site.

Higher risk organisations with fewer than five people only need at least one appointed person. Between five and 50 employees, at least one first aider trained in Emergency First Aid at Work or First Aid at Work depending on the types of injuries that could occur. For companies with more than 50 employees, at least one first aider qualified in First Aid at Work per 50 people is required.

First aid boxes

Having a first aid box on site is a minimum requirement for your workplace. It must be a marked green box with a white cross on it, and should be easily located by all members of staff. In larger premises, you should have more than one box, so that there is always a kit within reach of all members of staff.

Research in the UK found that, astoundingly, three quarters of employees did not know where their first aid box was kept, so ensure you take the time to inform everyone where it’s located.

In terms of what your kit contains, it depends on the risks you have identified through your appraisal. However, as a suggested guideline in a low risk workplace, the following items are recommended:

  • Sterile plasters, individually wrapped – at least 20
  • Eye pads, sterile and wrapped – at least 2
  • Triangular bandages, sterile and wrapped – at least 4
  • Safety pins – 6
  • Wound dressings, individually wrapped, medium size – 6
  • Disposable gloves, latex free – 1 pair
  • Information leaflet on first aid – 1

Note that you should never keep medicines like painkillers or other medication in your first aid kit.

If you have identified yourself as a higher risk business, you may need additional equipment in your first aid box to cope with your perceived risks and specific injuries. To help you put together the ideal first aid kit for your needs, we have developed some industry specific kits which offer a more comprehensive range of first aid items.

  • Industrial high-risk kits: These kits contain everything specified in the basic kit, except in larger quantities, and some additional items such as sterile eyewash pads, foil blankets, closure adhesive and resuscitators. You can see the full contents on the high risk first aid kit page here.
  • Sports kits: These are smaller, more lightweight kits, ideal for having with you at sports events or competitions. They contain most of the things in the basic kit, as well as some additional pads, bandages and a resuscitation face shield. See the full list in the sports first aid kit here.
  • Vehicle kits: If you travel for work, for instance to events, conferences or team days out, it’s worthwhile having a vehicular first aid kit mounted in your car or minibus. The Road Traffic Act 1986 stipulates that you must have one of these in the vehicle if you are responsible for transporting other people.
  • Catering kits: For a comprehensive kit that will deal with most eventualities in commercial kitchens or business canteens, our catering first aid point is perfect. Containing a full first aid kit as well as an eyewash kit and a burn kit, your kitchen will be safer with this station installed in it.
  • Multipurpose first aid kits: These have been designed as flexible, comprehensive kits to deal with a range of workplace accidents and emergencies. The multipurpose first aid kits include a general first aid kit, eyewash kit, burn kit and a biohazard disposal kit.
  • Wall cabinets and cupboards: In larger organisations, you may need more first aid items than will fit comfortably into a wall mounted box. In this case, we provide a range of first aid cabinets, cupboards and mobile trolleys, including lockable drugs cabinets, to safely store everything you need.
  • First aid room: If you plan on dedicating a space in your building to a first aid room, our first aid room bundle is a great place to start. Featuring an examination trolley, cotton blankets, workstation with lockable storage and mobile trolley, this will make it easy to comply with the first aid at work regulations for your business.

All of the components of our first aid bundles and kits are available to be purchased separately, so if, for instance, you only need a basic first aid kit but would like burns treatment equipment too, you can just add on the items you need to create your ideal solution.

Your appointed person should be responsible for auditing what’s been used and ordering replacements on a regular basis. Our first aid kit refill items are the easy way to ensure you are always stocked up and ready for anything.

If there is an emergency

Your priority in an emergency is to assess the situation, keep yourself well away from danger and to make the area safe. Take stock of who is injured and go to any unconscious people first. Call for help straight away and make sure the ambulance is called immediately.

If you find someone unconscious in the workplace, gently shake them and ask in a loud voice ‘are you alright?’. If you don’t receive a response, you must take appropriate action. Your first priority is to shout for help, if you haven’t done so already. Tilt their head back to open their airways and check if they are breathing normally. If you have a mirror to hand, it can help to hold it in front of their mouth and see if it fogs up.

If they are not breathing, you should start CPR. A full guide to CPR is available on the NHS website. If they are breathing, you should place them in the recovery position and keep checking that they are still breathing.

If someone is bleeding badly, you should apply pressure to the wound to stem the flow. If possible, raise the body part unless it is broken, and apply a dressing and bandage. If a broken bone or spinal injury is suspected, do not move the casualty, unless they are in serious immediate danger.

If someone is burned, you should cool the affected area with cold water for ten minutes or more. They should be immediately taken to hospital. Chemical burns should be treated with water for up to 20 minutes. If necessary, you should continue flooding the area with water on your way to the hospital.

Eye injuries can be serious, so do not attempt to take anything out of the eye or to tackle the problem yourself. Rinse the eye with clean water or with sterile eye bath fluid, then ask the casualty to hold a pad over their eye as they travel to hospital.

Your business should have an accident book, which should record any incidents relating to injured or sick people at work. When writing in the book, you should include:

  • The time, place and date of the injury or illness
  • The name of the casualty
  • Details of the injury or illness and what first aid you administered
  • The outcome of the situation; did they go to hospital, go home, back to work?
  • The name of the person who dealt with the incident and their signature

Keeping these sorts of records can help you identify trends in accidents and potential places for improvement in your health and safety at work strategies.

Health & Safety Literature

Displaying health and safety literature around your premises not only provides a handy reference guide for your employees, it also helps to reinforce the safety conscious culture in your organisation. By regularly being reminded that you take health and safety seriously, your workforce will also give it the attention it deserves.

Health and safety law poster

By law, your UK business must display on the premises a copy of the health and safety law poster. If this is not possible, you should provide every employee with a leaflet about the law individually. The HSE has produced various shapes and sizes of posters, pocket cards and information leaflets which are available to buy from their website.

If you have a health and safety law poster which predates 2009, you need to update to the current version. The old version was considered to be visually unappealing and difficult to read, so it was overhauled in 2009 to a more user-friendly format.

Some of the content has also changed, as there have been changes in the law since the old poster was created. It is essential that you have this version in your premises, or that you hand out copies of the new leaflet to all your staff. You can purchase your poster from the HSE website here, or you can download and print their leaflet free of charge.

General health and safety posters

There are many posters available which address all sorts of health and safety issues. What you need will depend on your business and what your identified risks are. See our full range of health and safety posters covering everything from electric shock treatment to kitchen hygiene.

Where to place your poster

It might seem obvious, but nobody is going to find your poster useful if you hide it away in an office or place it miles away from where the incident would most likely occur. Put your poster in a place that your staff will find it easily in the event of an emergency, for example:

  • Kitchen hygiene posters: Put them near the skin, or somewhere that people will notice them on their way into the kitchen and be reminded to maintain good standards.
  • Fire safety: Put them by the fire extinguishers, fire blankets or alarm switches which is where people will head for if a fire does break out.
  • Injury related posters: Put them by the first aid kit, or near to dangerous machinery so that the information is readily accessible in the event of an accident.

By putting some thought into the location of your poster, you can ensure that the right information is to hand at the right time, and easily within reach when needed.

First aid literature

Every first aid box will come with a basic first aid leaflet, but all too often these stay hidden in the box and are never really read by anyone in the building. Chances are, if an accident or illness does happen unexpectedly, nobody is going to want to waste time reading a leaflet when there is a casualty to attend to.

For this reason, we supply low cost first aid guidance leaflets which provide protocols on unconsciousness, bleeding, broken bones, burns, eye injuries and record keeping. They have been translated into French, Dutch, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, so that even migrant workers will be up to speed on your first aid processes and procedures. It’s good practice to include one of these small, inexpensive leaflets in your welcome pack or new starters guide, so that you know everyone has had the opportunity to get to know the information well.

Signage

Appropriate signage is crucial for making your health and safety processes work properly. Your investment in an excellent first aid kit will be wasted if nobody can find it, and your fire assembly point will only function in the event of an emergency if everyone knows where it is. Equip4Work can provide you with eye-catching, great value signage to make it easy to remain compliant with health and safety legislation, and to ensure you stay safe in the workplace at all times.

PPE

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is equipment designed to protect the person wearing it or using it from harm. It helps to ensure the user is kept safe in the presence of hazard in the workplace. In the most case, this includes things like helmets, googles, gloves, safety footwear, high visibility clothing and harnesses.

PPE should be a last resort for your business. All steps should be taken to eliminate or control the risks first, but if a risk is still present after implementing all practicable controls, you must provide it to your staff free of charge. Choosing your equipment should be done carefully, and all people using it should be appropriately trained in how to use it properly and how to check it for faults.

Considerations

All PPE should come from a reputable supplier, and should be selected taking into consideration:

  • CE marking: All PPE should be marked in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002
  • User: Choosing the right size, weight and fit can help make PPE more effective. If possible, get the user to help you choose it.
  • Effectiveness: Make sure the PPE is going to work properly. This is especially important if you are giving more than one piece of equipment to the same person. Do the safety goggles fit comfortably with the hard hat? Do they need prescriptions lenses?
  • Training: You must show people how to use PPE properly, for example taking off gloves without contaminating their skin. Make sure you understand the uses fully, so you can pass on this information to them.

All PPE should be properly looked after and stored correctly when not in use. The best way to do this is to invest in PPE storage units, which come in a range of shapes, sizes and functions to suit your needs. More information on choosing and using PPE is available from the HSE.

Hygiene

Fighting sickness and ill health starts with fighting infections. The workplace can be a paradise for various bugs, bacteria and viruses, with lots of people bringing lots of germs into the premises every day. From boots and shoes to hands and mouths, we’re literally bombarded by bacteria every day at work. Thankfully, there are some easy ways we can all make a little improvement.

Businesses that work with food, vulnerable people or in the medical industry will no doubt have industry guidance on their cleaning processes and products they should use, but for regular businesses, there is a real lack of information out there. But maintaining good hygiene doesn’t need to be hard work; simply taking care of cleanliness and thinking before you act can go a long way to improving the situation.

Top tips for better workplace hygiene

Here are some easy ways to improve the hygiene in your workplace:

  • Have a simple infection control plan: This could just be a cleaning rota, or may be more involved, depending on the nature of your business. By scheduling cleaning times throughout the year, as well as having a plan in place if something happens which could compromise hygiene (e.g. someone vomits on the floor) you’ll be prepared for all eventualities.
  • Provide cleaning materials: Sure, your cleaners are coming on Thursday, but what good is that if Sandra’s just spilt coffee on the fax machine? Have some basic cleaning materials on hand, just to keep on top of things in between the professional clean.
  • Encourage good hygiene: Place reminders for hand washing and other good hygiene practices in important locations like kitchens and bathrooms. Remind staff not to eat at their desk, and not to leave dirty cups, plates and wrappers lying around.
  • Provide hand washing facilities: These sorts of facilities go without saying, and are part of your overall health and safety responsibilities. But just providing a sink is not enough. Think about soap or hand scrub and a facility to dry hands near the sink as well.
  • Provide tissues: Having a few conveniently scattered boxes of tissues around will encourage people to blow noses and catch sneezes instead of just sharing it around.
  • Allow sick days: Pressuring people to come into work when they are genuinely ill will only serve to compromise the health of the other people in the building. By promoting a culture that encourages people to stay home when they are sick, you’ll be less likely to have the bug go around the whole workforce.

Make sure your workforce understands your views on issues like sick days and maintaining a hygienic workplace. Putting a section in the new starters guide or welcome pack can be a good way to build this into your workplace culture.

Products that can help

A specialist business, such as those working in sterile environments or those handling hazardous materials, will have specialist hygiene needs. However, for the majority of businesses, the things we need to buy to stay clean and hygienic at work are inexpensive and minimal.

Hand wash and disinfectants

A good disinfectant hand wash is a great way to beat the bugs at work. Of course, you can just go and buy an antibacterial soap from the high street for your washroom, but research has shown that actually antibacterial soaps are no better than plain soap at killing bacteria. In fact, if there are healthy bacteria on the skins surface, you won’t kill it with either product.

If you’re serious about hygiene, it’s worth investing in a proper hand scrub, such as is used in hospitals and medical situations. Our Bioguard hand scrub is recommended for pre operation hand prep, dental hand prep and as a hospital hand wash, so you can be confident it will work. It conforms to British and European Standards BSEN1276 and is effective against thousands of viruses, bacteria, mycobacterium and spores.

Also in the same range, our Bioguard disinfectant spray is similarly suitable for use in sterile environments. It can be used on floors, walls, work surfaces and even on skin and clothing. It won’t damage your carpet or paintwork, but will tackle the bacteria and viruses on it, creating a healthier workplace for everyone.

Wipes and towels

Having towels and wet wipes to hand can make it easier to clean up unexpected spills, and to maintain good hygiene throughout the building. Our hand towel rolls are ideal for the bathroom as a hand drying solution, and they don’t spread germs around in the way a blown air hand dryer does. The product comes in a larger roll too, so if you use a couch or have an inspection bed in your sick room, you can ensure each person gets a clean, hygienic surface to sit on.

For cleaning food preparations surfaces, desks, equipment and even hands and faces, the Bioguard light duty wipes are a good choice. Available in either a drum of pull off sheets or in handy individual sachets, these use the same hygiene technology as their sprays and hand scrub, eliminating thousands of types of bugs and bacteria.

For some office equipment, particularly monitors and laptop screens, you need a gentler wipe. The Office and VDU Cleaning Wipes are suitable for use on all these things and more, and are particularly popular for cleaning up telephones and headsets, which can become riddled with germs.

Gloves

Having disposable gloves in the workplace can make dirty jobs much safer and more hygienic. If you’re dealing with other people, such as the elderly, children or patients in a medical setting, you’ll definitely need plenty of gloves. But even if you work in an office, retail business or other low risk enterprise, you’ll be surprised how many jobs are much more pleasant when you’ve got a good pair of gloves!

There are many types of gloves to choose from, so here’s what you need to know:

  • Latex gloves: These are biodegradable disposable gloves which are comfortable and tactile to use. They can cause allergic reactions in some people.
  • Neoprene: These are best for use against acids, chemicals and other hazardous substances. They can be latex free to avoid allergic reactions. Not as easy to feel through as latex though.
  • Nitrile gloves: These are thin but very strong gloves, which are chemically resistant and puncture resistant. They offer more sensitivity than neoprene, and can be supplied in a latex free format.
  • Polythene: Latex free, so a good choice for sensitive skin, these are very thin and tactile, but have a looser fit than latex, nitrile and vinyl.
  • Vinyl: These are also latex free, and come in thick or thin varieties. They fit looser than nitrile and latex but tighter than polythene.

Most of these options are available in either powdered or non-powdered types. Powdered gloves are much easier to put on, and tend to be more resistant to tearing or ripping. However, if you work in a food preparation area, powder free is preferable because there is no risk of the powder making its way into the food.

Further information

Equip4Work are here to help you stay compliant and stay safe. Our health and safety products are designed to make your job of buying the right equipment easier. Our exprrt team are on hand to answer any questions you might have, and to help you make your decisions about the equipment you need. We’d love to hear from you, so call us on 08444 999 222 or drop us an email at sales@equip4work.com and we’ll be pleased to assist you.

John

Head of cool things at Office Furniture
Bit of this, bit of that but love cats.

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Author: John