– by Alan Hickey
Health and safety is an important aspect of running any business.
While it’s impossible to eliminate every risk in the workplace, you’re required to take ‘reasonable steps’ to minimise risks your employees are exposed to.
Health and safety is the subject of many laws, which employers must comply with. Failure to do so may lead to fines, a prison sentence and bad press.
In Ireland, the body in charge of enforcing legislation relating to occupational safety is the Health and Safety Authority. The main legislation surrounding safety in the workplace are:
- The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.
- The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees. Apart from being a legal obligation, ensuring adequate health and safety processes are in place goes a long way to promote wellbeing amongst employees.
In this piece, as well as highlighting the importance of appropriate health and safety measures in the workplace, we also offer some tips for improving it.
The importance of health and safety for care workers
As with any other industry, maintaining health and safety is an essential part of running a business.
This is even more important for businesses in the social care sector. Care workers, in particular, ensure people that require additional support (physically or practically) have access to it.
While care homes are still considered a ‘workplace’ for care workers, it’s much different from other working environments. This is because as well as being a place of work, it also serves as a home for its residents.
In care homes the risk of slips, trips and falls are greater as residents may be dealing with the effects of limited mobility, reduced eyesight or medication.
As well as conducting risk assessments, you’re also required to manage and ensure the safety, health and welfare of employees and residents in care homes.
Other reasons to invest in health and safety include:
- Preventing illness or injuries.
- Reducing health hazards.
- Increase awareness of surroundings.
- Reduce workplace stress.
- Avoiding fines and other consequences.
As well as complying with the law, there are many other benefits of maintaining a healthy and safe working environment, including:
- Improved employee morale.
- Greater efficiency.
- Increase productivity.
- Reduced employee turnover.
- Lower insurance, etc.
Protecting the health and safety of your employees will also save money in the long run. Apart from the fines you’ll face for not meeting the legal requirements, other costs may include:
- Payment to an employee on sick leave.
- Costs of hiring and training a new employee.
- Loss of productivity and business output.
- Possible loss of business and reputation.
Tips for improving health and safety in care homes
The first step to improving health and safety is training.
Training on the importance of health and safety, training on using equipment and tools adequately.
Because care workers work with a large amount of healthcare-related and often-complicated equipment, it’s important they know how to use them. By providing adequate training, you’re eliminating possible risks of injuries from wheelchairs, bed rails, evacuation equipment, etc.
Another common risk is the risk of slips, trips and falls. Residents are more prone to slips, trips and falls as a result of limited mobility, reduced eyesight and medication. To address this, focus on good housekeeping.
Other tips for improving safety include:
- Provide incentives.
- Use clear labels and signs.
- Encourage regular breaks.
- Provide adequate lighting, floor coverings ventilation and heating.
- Consult with health and safety experts.
- Have safety protocols in place.
- Install handrails in bathrooms to avoid falls.
- Consult employees or their representatives when making decisions relating to employee health.
- Alzheimer's and Dementia
- Dental Health
- Elder Abuse
- Entitlements for Older People
- Expert Interviews
- Eye Problems
- Heart Health
- Hip Problems
- Home Care
- Multigenerational housing
- Nursing Homes