What kinds of hazards should you be concerned with managing in your office workspace?

  • General slips, trip & falls hazards, identified through a simply Risk Assessment process
  • Fire Safety & evacuation plans – managed through a Fire Risk Assessment
  • Lone Workers who may be vulnerable when working alone or unassisted
  • Managing the use of computer workstations – Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment reviews to prevent Muscular/Skeletal Disorders (MSD)
  • Electrical hazards through the use of electrical equipment
  • Manual Handling concerns through lifting and shifting resulting in back pain/posture concerns
  • Accident & Incident management – advice on what to do if an injury occurs
  • Management of hazardous substances (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health COSHH) – Cleaning/kitchen products
  • Managing contractors and site visitors
  • Health & Safety communication techniques

The Crimson Crab Complete Office Safety Suite provides advice & guidance, tutorials & templates to help you manage all of the above real safety concerns.

With the Office Suite Safety Training Package included, this ensures that your employees are trained and competent in workplace safety reducing the risk of injury and potential downtime.

This support package not only helps to maintain a safe site to keep your employees and site visitors safe but also keeps your business compliant from a Health & Safety legal perspective.

Emergency First Aid at Work

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 set out the essential aspects of first aid that employers need to address.

These Regulations apply to all workplaces, including those with fewer than five employees.

Employers have a legal duty of care, to plan to ensure that their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. It does not matter whether the injury or illness is caused by the work they do, what is important is that they receive immediate attention and that an ambulance is called in serious cases.

First aid can save lives and prevent minor injuries becoming major ones. First aid provision in the workplace covers the arrangements that need to be made to manage injuries or illness suffered at work. The Regulations do not prevent staff who are specially trained from acting beyond the initial management stage.

Risk Assessment of First Aid needs

Employers should assess first aid needs appropriate to the circumstances (hazards and risks) of each workplace environment.

The aim of first aid is to preserve life, alleviate suffering, prevent, or reduce the effects of injury or illness suffered at work, whether caused by the work itself or not. First aid provision must be adequate and appropriate in any circumstances. This means that sufficient first aid equipment, facilities and personnel should be always available, taking account of alternative working patterns to:

  • provide immediate assistance to casualties with both common injuries or illnesses and those likely to arise from specific hazards at work;
  • summon an ambulance or other professional medical assistance.

Where an employer provides first aiders in the workplace, they should ensure they have undertaken suitable training, have an appropriate first aid qualification and remain competent to perform their role. Typically, first aiders will hold a valid certificate of competence in either first aid at work (FAW) or emergency first aid at work (EFAW). EFAW training enables first aiders to give emergency first aid to someone who is injured or becomes ill while at work. FAW training includes EFAW and equips first aiders to apply first aid to a range of specific injuries and illnesses.

Written by John Bowles a trained Freelance Training Instructor holding City and Guilds in Health and Social Care (Level 2) and (PTLLS Level 3) Teaching and Training Qualification from the (HABC) Highfield Accreditation Body for Compliance. 

To arrange onsite certified Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) training for your staff, or for support with your first aid needs assessment, please get in touch. 

Distraction, Disruption and Stress

The true impact of conflict on the health and safety of employees – Guest blog by Emma Jenkings Mosaic Mediation

I have been a mediator for over 4 years and worked at the Employment Tribunal. So, I have seen the adverse effects of conflict. Emma Jenkins at her desk

‘Conflict’ can include bullying or harassment claims, personality clashes, verbal disagreements, grievance claims, or simply silent friction with another colleague.

Not all conflict is bad, so I will only focus on unnecessary conflict.

Here are just SOME of the consequences of unnecessary conflict in the workplace, that I have come across:

­Work-related stress

Stress is the most common side effect of conflict. Regardless of the ‘type’ or conflict, it occupies an individual’s mind until it is resolved. It is detrimental for their focus, their interactions with other people, their mental or physical health, and their ability to have good quality sleep.

When there is background stress and a lack of focus, it may cause them to make detrimental decisions. Combine stress from conflict with a high workload, fast-paced activity, and/or external stressors (such as financial strain, personal relationship issues or underlying mental health conditions) and it could then lead to serious consequences.

Stress is also likely to impact the quality of their work, their ability to plan carefully, and it could lead to dangerous errors. Stress in the workplace may feel inevitable, but it has the potential to precede damaging consequences.

Higher Absenteeism

As a workplace mediator, I am never surprised when a mediation participant tells me of the far-reaching impact that an argument, or friction, with their colleague or manager has had – on their mental health, their physical wellbeing (such as headaches, or flare-ups of skin conditions or underlying conditions), and, most definitely, their sleep. In fact, I have yet to come across someone who has NOT experienced the side-effects of conflict. And, regularly, at least one of the participants will have taken time off due to stress caused by the conflict – anywhere from between two weeks to 6 months+.

Interestingly – but maybe unsurprisingly – in the CIPD’s ‘Health and Wellbeing at Work’ March 2020 report, 93% of employers that were asked put minor ailments, such as headaches, as the top reason for short-term employee absence. Stress was the third most common reason. In terms of long-term absence, the report found that ‘mental ill-health’ was the top cause – and stress was, again, the third most common reason given.

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) also show that the total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2018/19 was 602,000 – and equated to 12.8 million days absent from work.

Such statistics are hard to ignore. Even though not all the cases were related to a falling out at work or clashing with a team member or manager, a significant proportion of them will be due to these reasons. (Therefore, many of these cases would have been preventable absences.)

Disruption to productivity

Not only does time off work tend to cause disruption to the workflow of a company, but conflict between employees or management can also make it difficult to get tasks done, and projects finished to a high standard and on time.

Conflict takes up people’s time and energy – for those in senior positions trying to manage the conflict, and also the delays that are caused when people find it a challenge to communicate effectively with each other, or simply to agree! The more that a team can work together, the quicker and more effectively a job will get done.

Distraction and Errors

A person in the middle of a conflict situation is also likely to be prone to distraction and making errors – especially if they are suffering from the inevitable stress that comes with conflict.

Distractions can come in the form of not being able to focus on the task when the person they clash with is nearby. Or it may arise in the form of disagreeing with this person when they work together or work near each other – taking them away from their job and causing delays.

Stress, distraction and any impact on their mental or physical health can also lead to unfortunate – and potentially dangerous – errors. Errors which would not have occurred had the issues been resolved quickly and thoroughly.

Adverse effect on morale

The morale of an individual is going to be negatively affected by being involved in a challenging situation at work. It is good to also remember the negative influence that conflict has on their colleagues.

More often, it is this impact on the rest of the workforce that leads to the situation being escalated to the human resources department, manager – and then, eventually, me! When tension between two or three people spill over to the rest of the team or the people that they are working with, it can lead to gossip, further miscommunication and greater tension, as more people get involved. Some individuals may try and avoid the ones at the centre of the conflict or, in the extreme, choose to leave the company due to the toxic atmosphere. Structural or people changes can often be unsettling.

High Staff Turnover

As I mentioned, even those who are not at the centre of the situation may choose to leave the company – so it makes sense that those directly impacted might leave too. Many people who, once they hear what my job is, reveal to me that they left a previous role due to conflict with another person. And, during mediations, many participants are very ready to leave, if the mediation is not successful at resolving the issues.

High staff turnover is disruptive to task management, client relationships, training requirements (for new staff members or for those asked to take over tasks), and the morale of a team. Though at times it may be the best solution for a person to leave, this situation tends to be in the minority. Most people would prefer to be able to stay and if they felt that things could be resolved.

Legal Consequences

Having worked previously at the Employment Tribunal and having specialised in Employment Law during my Law degree, I am all too aware of the consequences of unresolved (or partially/ineffectively resolved) conflict. It can result in someone bringing a claim to the tribunal – which, though no one is required to pay for representation, may involve the significant financial cost of hiring solicitors and/or a barrister. It also costs a significant amount of time and stress to go through a tribunal hearing. There is a LOT of paperwork, decisions and often delays involved in getting to the tribunal.

There is also the consideration of legal consequences if poor decision-making resulted in dangerous errors or delays in hitting contractual client deadlines.

Even if it doesn’t reach the point of going to a tribunal or court, there are the possibilities that the conflict could result in a grievance or disciplinary procedure – which costs the time of your managers for meetings, preparation and management of the issues.

Harm to self-esteem

I left this category until last, not because it is less important – rather because it is so important, and often overlooked.

Even if someone chooses to leave a company because of the conflict, or gets moved to a different team, or if the conflict situation ends without an obvious reason, it can leave a lasting impression on a person’s confidence and identity.

When conflict is unresolved or unexplained, they may start to blame themselves for what happened. Conflict ALWAYS feels personal – whether it is about personalities or processes. Most human beings desire genuine connection and acceptance. Whereas conflict leads to feelings of disconnection and rejection.

There are many people who, many years on, still find it difficult to process what happened and how to feel about themselves and the situation. Many find themselves avoiding situations which have the potential to cause conflict. Many also continue to suffer with anxiety and low self-esteem.

Even if someone does not leave, people with low self-esteem often find it difficult to trust their own judgment and make good decisions – which is likely to impact their effectiveness in their role.

So, what can be done to prevent and manage conflict?
  1. Encourage clear and kind communication – feedback is a wonderful tool if done well
  2. Tackle small issues before they develop
  3. Notice changes – and what impact they may have
  4. Avoid ‘blame culture’ – focus on ‘contribution’ and solutions
  5. Recognise the importance of conflict resolution training, and training on having essential conversations
  6. If in doubt, speak to a mediator about the situation – they may advise mediation, training, or an alternative positive action to take.

Emma Jenkings is a trained Workplace & Employment Mediator, Conflict Resolution & Assertiveness Coach, DISC assessor & Communication Trainer. She started her company, Mosaic Mediation, in 2016 and is now a speaker and author. Emma also offers consultancy or retainer support to companies who want to effectively support their employees and prevent unnecessary conflict. Go to www.mosaicmediation.co.uk for more information.

Do you know the types of safety risks which are present in your workplace?

A continuing theme in the Health & Safety Executive Annual reports is a high number of serious injuries and fatalities recorded which could have been avoided had the employer been aware of, and made provision for, the risk to which they were exposing employees.

Interaction with transport at work and falling from height accounted for almost half of all workplace deaths. Both of these workplace risk areas are easily managed if employers, and employees, are prepared to invest time in doing things right.

Make sure that all your workplace activities are properly Risk Assessed.

Contractor management – Are you controlling the risks they bring to site?

There is often a requirement for businesses to call on the services of contracted labour.

From maintenance works to regular testing of key safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, any contractor who visits your site must have adequate diligence carried out on them to ensure that the safety risks they bring are managed and will not jeopardise the safety of your employees or site visitors.

Contact Crimson Crab for support in simple measures to take to make sure your contractors are properly assessed.

Five steps to Health and Safety – Step 5 – Access to Competent safety advice

We are continuing to update you all on our “5 simple steps to safety compliance”. Step 5 – Having access to competent H&S advice.

All businesses must be able to demonstrate that they have access to up-to-date and competent Health & Safety advice. This is a requirement under H&S law.

This ensures that all employers are familiar with the actions to take in managing their workplace safety concerns.

If you feel that you don’t have sufficient in-house competence in managing your safety risks then ensure that you source external support.

Five steps to Health and Safety – Step 4 – Communicating workplace safety plans

We are continuing to update you all on our “5 simple steps to safety compliance”. Step 4 – Communication of Workplace H&S Plans.

It is really important to communicate any known and foreseeable workplace safety hazards to all interested parties including employees, visitors and authorities.

Whilst businesses have plans to identify and manage safety risks, many fail to undertake the final important step in communicating these plans to ensure that everyone is aware of the risks.

Five steps to Health and Safety – Step 3 – Managing all other foreseeable risks

We are continuing to update you all on our “5 simple steps to safety compliance”. Step 3 – Managing Other Safety risks at Work.

Being able to demonstrate management of other safety risks within your workplace e.g. fire outbreaks and lone working, is a legal requirement.

You must have a system that supports you in identifying and managing all other hazards which could present risk to employees and site visitors.

Five steps to Health and Safety – Step 2 – The Workplace Risk Assessment

We are continuing to update you all on our “5 simple steps to safety compliance”.  Step 2 – The Health & Safety Risk Assessment.

It is a requirement for every business to have a system in place which supports you in identifying and managing all hazards within your workplace.

Every workplace, no matter how trivial the activities seem from a Health & Safety perspective, WILL have hazards and risks which require managing and it is a legal requirement to demonstrate that this is being done.

Five steps to Health and Safety – Step 1 – The Health & Safety Policy

We are continuing to update you all on our “5 simple steps to safety compliance”. Step 1 – The Health and Safety Policy.

It is a legal requirement to have a Health & Safety Policy which explains how you intend to manage Health & Safety within your workplace.

Make sure you have a policy in place which reflects your current business safety risks and how you are managing them.