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With the start of a new year comes the opportunity to start afresh, and many of us are busy thinking about the positive changes we can make in the year ahead.

In the workplace, January is a perfect time to take stock and consider what’s working well, what needs updating and what new strategies can be put in place to ensure your employees, as well as your legal obligations, are being properly taken care of.

Stuck for ideas? Here’s just a few practical pledges that may help to enhance your health and safety culture and performance in 2023.

1. Make health and safety your mantra

Re-brand your health and safety management programme with an updated slogan and fresh vision for the year. This is a simple and effective way to remind workers of the importance of good health and safety practices, as well as demonstrate that you’re actively thinking about their welfare.

Remember, there’s no such thing as perfect health and safety management. It’s therefore essential to regularly evaluate your organisation’s safety culture and performance, and seek to continually improve matters.

2. Rethink and revisit training

Consider how well equipped employees are to undertake their role safely, without putting themselves or others at risk. If there are gaps in employees’ knowledge, if they haven’t received any refresher training since their induction, or if there have been changes to their role, the workplace or working practices, now is the time to think about what training courses might be appropriate.

As well as signalling to staff that you care about them and your organisation overall, investing in health and safety training is an effective way of reducing injury and illness, saving on the cost of absences, diminished productivity and increased insurance premiums. With this in mind, taking the time to upskill staff and refresh their knowledge should be high on your list of health and safety priorities for the year.

3. Revitalise your health and safety policy

When did you last review or update your health and safety policy or safety statement? The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that this should be reviewed at least annually, as well as whenever work practices or legislation changes.

Health and safety regulations are constantly evolving and the HSE regularly updates their guidance, conducts targeted campaigns and issues safety alerts, so it’s important that your policy and practices reflect the current position.

To make sure you get off on the right foot and promote best practice, start the year by reviewing your organisation’s policies and procedures to check they’re up to date, taking into account any changes to regulations, personnel and the work environment.

Remember, if you employ more than five members of staff, it is a legal requirement to have a written Health & Safety Policy.

4. Risk assess your environment

Like a health and safety policy, risk assessments are a mandatory requirement in any organisation. Their purpose is to help you identify hazards or risks in your workplace, then develop plans to either remove or reduce them. An up-to-date and correctly completed risk assessment will help to keep staff safe and ensure you’re complying with the health and safety law.

Risk assessments are living documents and should be reviewed at least annually, so now is an opportune time to re-do or revisit yours, especially if there have been significant changes in your activities, actual incidents or near misses, or if there is reason to believe your current risk assessment is no longer valid.

Our Risk Assessment Training courses explore why risk assessments matter and how to write an effective one.

5. Test your equipment

Check the inspection dates on all of your equipment, and if required, replace or update it. Similarly, make sure that fire extinguishers and alarms are in good working order and that first aid kits are fully stocked.

Don’t skimp on this resolution – always be thorough in your checks, and if equipment isn’t in tip-top condition, don’t risk it; make sure it’s out with the old and in with the new. Use this resolution as an opportunity to educate or remind staff of the regulations surrounding equipment.

6. Clear the workplace of hazards

Deep cleaning and decluttering the workplace will help to ensure your environment is safe and can go a long way towards preventing common slip, trip and fall incidents. Organising stray cables, clearing walkways of obstructions and checking that floor coverings are in good condition are simple and inexpensive ways to reduce risk over the year ahead.

7. Take time to reflect

Making New Year’s resolutions without taking stock of last year’s events is akin to setting half-baked goals. Look back at 2022 and identify any mistakes and successes that you can learn from, then use what happened to create specific and informed safety resolutions.

Were there any documented health hazards? How about slips, trips and falls? Were staff engaged in health and safety matters? Could any incidents have been prevented? Make a note of potential solutions, consult staff, and put measures in place to promote safer working in 2023.

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