It is a concern that any worker or business owner must take incredibly seriously: a workplace feeling unsafe or unhealthy.

These risks can come in many forms, from electrical hazards to not feeling secure, comfortable or protected. In terms of health, it can simply be that employees are sat motionless for eight hours a day without proper breaks or exercise.

As a member of staff, these are not conditions you should sit back and accept; identifying a poor or unsafe working environment and taking action is vital.

Identifying hazards

The first step to challenging and changing a working environment that is negatively affecting your health — or is putting you at risk of injury — is to identify the hazards. Familiarize yourself with the workplace safety and health regulations of your state or country so that you can properly and quickly understand what is unethical, dangerous or even illegal.

Using this foundation of knowledge, your own common sense and your day-to-day experiences in the workplace, be vigilant to the main hazards to human health:

  • Biological (e.g. cleanliness)
  • Chemical (e.g. substances)
  • Physical (e.g. heights)
  • Safety (e.g. trip hazards)
  • Ergonomic (e.g. poor posture)
  • Psychological (e.g. harassment or stress)

Once these hazards have been identified and noted, they should be communicated with your team and your department manager so that they can begin to be resolved.

Communicating with your team

It is critical that you communicate any fears or concerns surrounding workplace safety to the relevant manager and risk assessment team but, depending on circumstance, it may be necessary to first warn those immediately around you. This would be the case if you had spotted a trip hazard or sparking plug, for instance.

The size of your company will then dictate how best to report the issue to your manager. A small store or office should provide you with the opportunity to find a senior figure quickly, allowing you to take them to the risk immediately. In larger, more departmentalized corporations, it may be necessary to first contact your team leader or to email a picture of the risk to the relevant body — always use ‘URGENT’ in the subject heading of such communications.

Completing risk assessments

Any business complying with health and safety regulations should be carrying out regular risk assessments and completing them to a high degree of accuracy. Risk assessment forms accelerate the process in which issues are identified, analysed and subsequently solved by having a dedicated team member or external body for the matter.

If your company does not carry out regular risk assessments, you could consider this as a risk in itself. Contact a senior member of staff and query how they are keeping you and your colleagues safe, if this is the case.

Using a solicitor

If the worst does happen and you are injured at work, you will need the help of an experienced and knowledgeable legal team such as those at Aston Knight Solicitors. Making an injury claim is simple and risk-free when you use a solicitor with a no-win, no-fee promise and a free initial consultation.

When you believe your injury at work was sustained at no fault of your own, you should know your four key rights. They are the right to making a claim, the right to taking time off to recover, the right to lighter duties or reduced hours and the right to claiming for lost income.

You will need to prove that somebody — your employer or a fellow colleague — was negligent in the event of your injury. If the above criteria fit your situation, contact a solicitor to begin your claim.

Promoting health in the workplace

Aside from injury and risk of accident, workplaces can also be generally unhealthy places without the promotion of eating well or regular exercise. Due to relatively short lunch breaks, depending on where you work, it may not be convenient to eat fresh food or prepare a meal in the middle of your working day.

If you are concerned about this, the topic should be discussed with your manager. It should not be difficult to gain support from your colleagues, who will likely feel the same way, which will open up opportunities for starting healthy eating or exercising at work campaigns.

In terms of moving around in the office, request regular short breaks if you feel your back, neck or legs are sore. Attempt to use the stairs in place of the lift and if possible, go for a walk during your lunch. Leaving the office to eat your food is a clever trick for ensuring you get the time away from your screen that you need, as it is less likely you will be called off your break to complete some work or cover for a colleague. This will also help rest your eyes which become strained if focusing on a computer for too long.