We’re confident you put a lot of time and effort into keeping your employees safe and supporting their wellbeing in work. But once you’re achieving (and maybe even exceeding) the required standards is there a case for extending that support outside the working environment?
It’s an interesting debate and it’s one that’s been going on for a while. Several associations, including RoSPA, have been vocal in their support for the idea that companies should consider developing their management systems and culture to help employees remain safe when they’re not in work. There’s pretty sound logic for doing this when you think about it. A sensible approach to health and safety isn’t something you switch off along with your computer at the end of the day. If you have a good safety culture in work you’d expect at least some of those behaviours to manifest themselves at home too. But we’ll also bet that quite a few of those safety behaviours aren’t applied quite so rigorously at home or outside work. That’s fine to some extent; there will inevitably be different types and levels of risks specific to workplaces. But slips and falls can happen anywhere. A worn cable is just as much of a fire risk in your lounge as it is in an office. Checking your smoke alarms in your house is every bit as important as checking fire prevention systems in work – but chances are it’s the workplace alarms that get tested more regularly.


Is there a business case for getting more involved with your employees’ safety outside work? We think there might well be. It’s been estimated that employees suffer three to four times more accidents during their leisure time than in the workplace. Many of these accidents lead to time off work and, in extreme circumstances, long-term invalidity. As well as the obvious distress this causes to the employee, the lost time will have an impact on business continuity and even affects employee morale with others having to provide cover on top of their usual responsibilities. And it doesn’t have to be the employee who’s sustained the injury either; employees may also have to take unplanned time off to care for other members of the household who’ve injured themselves.


It’s a delicate balance because no company wants to be accused of unwelcome interference in an employee’s private life. But if it’s not forced on anyone and is instead presented as a way of extending support to people, it has the potential to be a very positive move. And it’s possible some of your employees are already carrying out some of their duties at home or are even completely home-based. Which means the division between workplace and home environments is blurring anyway.


RoSPA have suggested companies need to focus on encouraging the transfer of workplace safety knowledge and skills to other parts of an employee’s life. This gives huge scope. For example, you can talk to employees about ladder safety or how to effectively transfer manual handling techniques so they can be applied at home. You can use fire safety sessions as a chance to talk to employees about creating a fire escape plan for the home. Or how about looking at any absence data you routinely compile and seeing whether you can identify your top 3 causes of non-occupational injuries to use as a starting point? If you have a corporate social responsibility programme in place you could even think about delivering safety training to the community in general, perhaps holding first aid sessions or something similar.
Whatever you choose to do, even if it makes one person safer, that’s a good outcome. So why not give it some thought?

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