Making these 9 dangerous mistakes in the workplace could prove fatal

We all know the importance of health and safety in the workplace and why guidelines are put in place to protect us. For both employees and employers, the finer details may be lesser known depending on how rigorous your health and safety documentation and guidelines are.

To encourage worker safety and accountability from employers, Horizon Platforms has shared some common mistakes that could be hazardous to health and wellbeing. This provides guidelines relevant for both office and manual workers. Take a look below.

The worst health and safety mistakes to make in your workplace

1.   Undertaking dangerous activities without supervision

Sometimes you may undertake dangerous activities which have been risk assessed and which are crucial for your line of work. When taking on any dangerous activity it is of utmost importance to ensure you have someone with you to supervise, where necessary or appropriate. This person can advise you on obstructed vision tasks, give you additional reassurance and also be available to call for help should anything go wrong.

2.   Working during adverse weather conditions

This winter we have seen sub-zero temperatures and stormy conditions, making it crucial to assess the risk before you decide to work in adverse conditions. Not only can cold cause frostbite and hypothermia, in extreme cases, but ice is one of the biggest causes of slips and falls which could lead to serious injury (HSE). Hailstone and snowstorms also may risk your ability to complete your work safely if you work outside, any obstructions to your vision should be accounted for and risk assessed before you begin work, if at all.

3.   Working at height without proper equipment or PPE

Falls when working at height is one of the leading causes of fatal injury at work (HSE), making it imperative to stay safe if you need to undertake tasks at height as part of your role. Where required, you should ensure you have access to the most appropriate working-at-height equipment such as Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) or mobile scaffold towers, for example, and provide the right training and protective equipment, which may include harnesses, horizontal lifelines, work restraint systems and hard hats.

4.   Neglecting safety training

Skipping or rushing health and safety training is a no-no for employers and employees. This may feel like a chore or take time from your work day but this is time well spent as it could make the difference between life and death, as you learn how to avoid unnecessary risk in the workplace. Employers could be at risk of fines if they are found to not be properly following health and safety guidance within their respective industries.

5.   Cutting corners on risky tasks

Unfortunately, there have been news stories where companies have been fined for taking shortcuts. Saving time may seem appealing but could put you and others at risk, especially when working at height or operating machinery, for example. Manual workers are most at risk of taking shortcuts, as skipping steps in these types of tasks usually bypasses health and safety guidance. Not only could this be risking yourself but also your co-workers.

6.   Working when you don’t have a clear mind

Being honest about pre-existing mental health conditions and sharing changes in your life which may impact your mental wellbeing are all important steps to take at work to ensure you can be properly supported by your employer, and employers should be open and non-judgmental to these issues. Anxiety and depression remain the most common mental health conditions suffered by workers in the UK, having an understanding and making reasonable adjustments to support this will reduce your risk at work of making mistakes and burning out. If you have suffered a bereavement or life event which impacts your ability to work, you should always let your boss know so they can accommodate this. Neglecting your mental health has a long-term impact on your health, affecting areas such as sleep, diet and critical thinking skills. Good employers will offer support with respect to mental health issues, as will mental health charities and services. So, if you or any of your team it’s best not to struggle on your own because unintentional accidents and injuries can occur.

7.   Pressuring your employees to work overtime and not take breaks

Senior leaders and managers should set a good example and encourage workers to take regular breaks. Asking your employees to work overtime and through their lunch breaks may not be legal and can lead to detrimental impact on their physical and mental health. Hitting a deadline is important but safety and the health and wellbeing of team members is far more important. Burnout is the biggest risk a lack of breaks may cause, as well as sleep disruption, poor diet and mistakes being made which may be dangerous due to not letting your staff switch off and recharge.

8.   Leaving machinery switched on and using faulty tools

Some machinery is already dangerous to use and will require operation and health and safety training to use, making it important to always follow manufacturer and safety guidelines. Some machinery can cause permanent and irreparable damage to your physical health. Making sure you switch off tools and machines out of use is a good habit to have to ensure you don’t unnecessarily put yourself or others at risk. You should also never take risk and use faulty machinery that is known to not work to standard.

9.   Working in a building which doesn’t follow safety guidelines

Commercial building owners, tenants and landlords are all bound by different rules to follow for health and safety. UK employers must carry out fire risk assessments and have a plan in place should a fire occur. Businesses should appoint a fire marshal, keep documentation up to date and run regular fire drills to make sure all staff know the procedure to follow in the event of a fire. UK commercial building owners and landlords need to also have gas appliances checked every 12 months and follow standards for electrical appliances within their buildings. Since 2012 building owners are also expected to take steps to find out if their buildings contain asbestos and follow the correct procedures for removing this safely (The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012).