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An employer’s responsibilities don’t end when an employee leaves the premises. Nothing has made this fact more evident than the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen swathes of the working population quickly switch to working from home.

Employers quickly realised their responsibilities for their staff didn’t begin and end in the office. Several issues came to the fore, namely:

  • How can employers manage workplace stress outside of the office?
  • How can they manage workloads?
  • How can they ensure ergonomic best practice is followed?
  • Is their current health and safety procedure still suitable?

Thankfully, a number of working from home guidelines were available to follow from the HSE and the Government. While for many we’re in the final stretch of working from home, the precedent of the last few months is set to change working behaviour for others. Continuing to stay at home for the long-term is certainly an option for some.

To ensure you’re keeping your employees safe going forward, discover how much responsibility an employer has for their staff when they are working from home.

What are the Working From Home Guidelines?

Legally, employers must ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees, even at home.

Individual guidance varies depending on the workplace, but the majority of work from home guidelines can apply to any industry.

Namely, the most important sections of the working from home guidelines are as follows:

  • Ask employees to carry out their own risk assessments and relay back any issues. This sounds larger than it is – it’s essentially ensuring employees have a comfortable working environment.
  • Respond to this risk assessment information to the best of your ability.
  • Stay abreast of government guidance.
  • Make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.
  • Regularly keep in touch with employees to manage mental health and make any reasonable adjustments for those who are struggling.

Just because employees are at home doesn’t mean they’re free of risk or an employer’s responsibility.

Health & Safety: Managing Stress and Mental Health at Home

Most modern workplaces should have mental health procedures already in place, but this may not be sufficient for at-home working.

An increase in workload, worries around the current coronavirus response and disconnection from peers can understandably lead to an increase in stress and, therefore, an impact on mental health.

Employers must be proactive when it comes to this issue. Procedures should be put in place to recognise signs of stress early and to act on them.

Ultimately, the best health and safety policy when it comes to mental health is to be flexible. This should include:

  • Supporting a flexible work/life balance.
  • Mimicking in-office social events and check-ins. Maintaining company culture can have positive knock-on effects.
  • Creating action plans for workers who are suffering with their mental health.
  • Encouraging employees to turn to additional support should they need it.

DSE Equipment and At-Home Ergonomics

An employer should provide the equipment needed for an employee to work from home. This can be everything from IT equipment to desk chairs to headsets – essentially, anything your staff had in the office should be provided for at-home work.

This applies to workplace ergonomics, too. An employer must provide ergonomically safe Display Screen Equipment (DSE) such as keyboards and mice to prevent long-term injuries from poor posture, eye fatigue or muscle degradation.

To complement this, employers should encourage employees to create a comfortable working environment and take time for regular breaks, exercise and light.

Read more about ergonomics with our in-depth blog: Labels and Ergonomics: Using General Signs To Improve Performance.

Prepare for a Return to Work With our Safety Signs

Overall, by listening to workers, following risk assessments and giving them the equipment they need, you are fulfilling your responsibility to workers at home.

The transition to working from home won’t end with coronavirus, so prepare for these policies to be used in the long-term.

However, plans are already being put in place across the country to return to the office, too, so you need to be ready for any eventuality.

To prepare for a return to the office, be sure to check out our range of safety signs. We also have a selection of social distancing signs for those returning to the office in bubbles.

Electrical safety in the workplace is becoming an increasing concern. As workplaces modernise, so does their reliance on electrical equipment. Now, every workplace needs some form of electrical hazards and control measures, from posters to labels to training.

If you are an employer, you need to know how to avoid electrical hazards in your workplace. Below, we list some of the most common electrical hazards in the workplace and put your knowledge to the test on how best to avoid them. Simply pick which answer you think fits best and find out how much you really know.

Problem: PAT Testing

All electrical appliances in the workplace must be PAT tested with a PAT test label. However, what does a PAT test look at?

  1. Insulation resistance, polarity and continuity.
  2. The voltage.
  3. The quality of wiring.
  4. How dangerous an appliance is.

Problem: High-Voltage Wiring

Let’s say a workplace uses high-voltage wiring which employees pass by nearly every day. What precautions should an employer take? How far should these precautions go? Should an employer:

  1. Tell employees to avoid the high-voltage wiring and inform them of the dangers.
  2. Display voltage markers around the area.
  3. Display voltage markers and electric warning labels near appliances, as well as deliver training.
  4. Do nothing – the odds of someone getting hurt is pretty low anyway.
  5. Use Wiring Regulations (BS 7671) labels

Problem: Fuse Ratings

Fuse ratings are central to safety, with many appliances requiring a fuse rating label. However, do you know why fuse ratings are important?

  1. They’re not – it’s just stuff for electricians to fuss over.
  2. They help to identify the type of electrical appliance being used, as well as information on grounding, voltages and currents to help with maintenance.
  3. They refer to how powerful an appliance is.
  4. They refer to how long an electrical appliance will last.

Problem: Inspections

A low-voltage appliance in the workplace requires inspection every few years. How do you ensure this is done on time and is it an employer’s responsibility? Do you:

  1. Make a note of it in an inspection spreadsheet. You’ll remember to check it on time. Promise.
  2. Pass the responsibility onto the person who uses the appliance the most – they’re more likely to remember.
  3. Stick a load of warning labels on there.
  4. Use an installation inspection label as well as appropriate paperwork.

Problem: Electric Shocks

Many workplaces, despite the best efforts of employers and safety legislation, still carry a risk of electric shocks occurring. To anticipate these accidents in advance, how should a workplace prepare?

  1. Train members of the team to be first-aid responders, and ensure every member knows the risks of electricity.
  2. Establish emergency procedures in case electric shocks occur.
  3. Utilise electric shock notices and other health & safety posters to keep employees reminded of the risks.
  4. Allow for regular inspections of equipment and procedures to keep employees as safe as possible.
  5. All of the above.

Put Your Electric Hazard Knowledge Into Practice

Overall, employers and businesses need to stay adrift of electrical best practice. All workplaces deal with electricity in some way, and the more you know about it, the better you can protect your employees.

Learning how to prevent electrical hazards in the workplace isn’t optional. Put your new-found knowledge into practice with our electrical hazard labels today.

Correct answers –

1) A. Got this wrong? The brush up on your knowledge here: How to Conduct a PAT Test

2) C. Incorrect answer? Read more here: Voltage Labels: Prevent Electric Shocks

3) B. Read more: Don't Be Shocked! The Importance of Electric Shock Notices

4) D. Further information: The Importance of Electrical Inspection Labels

5) E. Further reading: Electric Shock Notices: Be Safe Around High-Voltage Hazards!

Spillages are common. Whether it’s a cup of coffee in the staff canteen or a serious spillage of stored liquids, both need some form of spill control to sort them out.

Without a spill control process, workplaces would find themselves culpable should a member of staff slip, and things get even more dangerous when we consider the storage of flammable liquids in warehouses.

To keep employees safe, employers must do two things:

  • Establish a spill control protocol.
  • Ensure liquids are safely stored to minimise the risk of spills happening.

Below, we’ll discuss how to store liquids safely, how to establish a spill control process and how signs can play an important role in both.

How To Safely Store Liquids

Safe storage of liquids depends on what type of liquid it is. Largely, liquids are categorised as flammable and non-flammable, and each has their own protocols to follow.

Flammable Liquids

Flammable liquids must be controlled in line with The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. This law is in place to “control the risks to safety from fire, explosions and substances corrosive to metals.”

The law requires businesses to:

  • Review and note which substances are dangerous in the workplace.
  • Put measures in place to either remove or control the substance.
  • Prepare a spill control plan that covers any ill effects from spillage, including damages to an employee’s health (both acute and long-term).
  • Place hazardous material, including flammable liquids, away from any ignition sources.
  • Train employees to handle the substance safely.

It is similar to the storage of gas cylinders, which we covered in our blog, Cooking on Gas: How to Ensure Gas Cylinder Safety.

You must ensure the storage of flammable liquids is done properly and these materials are kept away from ignition sources, but how do you do this? Overall, an employer should:

  • Store the minimum amount of flammable liquid they need.
  • Ideally, store the liquid on strong shelving.
  • Ensure the storage area is well-ventilated.
  • Review and remove ignition sources.
  • Label the presence of flammable liquids so employees can take extra care.
  • Refer to a spill control plan when accidents occur.

Non-Flammable Liquids

Non-flammable liquids have fewer risks than their flammable counterparts, but they can still be dangerous. Slipping on spillages is the number-one cause of workplace accidents, so controlling these can be key to keeping your employees safe.

Overall, to organise a workplace or warehouse, it’s recommended that an employer:

  • Classifies, segregates and labels liquids by type and class. This helps with organisation and prevents incompatible liquids from mixing during a spill.
  • Store at height, not on the floor. This requires excellent warehouse racking, as well as an efficient labelling system.
  • Inspect the liquids frequently to check for leaks. Usually, a spillage does not happen at once, but builds up over time, especially in warehouses.
  • Refer to a spill control plan when accidents occur and ensure those actioning the removal of spillages are trained.

How To Set Up A Spill Control Plan

A spill control plan will differ on a business-by-business basis. Naturally, a business that deals with chemicals will have a different spill control plan than, say, an oil refinery or farm. However, all spill control plans must cover the following:

  • A risk assessment. This should be the first step to any spill control plan, as it dictates the entire response.
  • A list of PPE and where to find them in the business. This is especially important when accessing hazardous material.
  • Methods to confine the spill. This can be done using various methods, from specialised powders to signs.
  • Methods to stop the spill at the source.
  • A full decontamination plan.
  • A plan to clean and dry the affected area. Too often, this step is neglected, leading to slippages.

Overall, by setting up a spill control plan, businesses can be prepared for any type of spillage in the workplace.

In-Process Spills

As part of a spill control plan, you also need to consider in-process spills. This is when a spill is happening over time, but it can't be stopped immediately. 

To combat this, ensure you use the correct labels to inform staff that a spill is occurring and signpost around it. If the spill is of a chemical nature, then use the directions around the element to ascertain what protocols you should put in place. 

Buy Spill Control & Liquid Storage Signs Today

To help you identify liquids and spillages, consider our range of spill control and liquid storage signs. These help to control everything from chemical spills in the workplace to the most basic liquids.

Plus, when you buy from Label Source, you’re buying from a brand with a hallmark of label quality.

Disabled guidance safety signs are commonplace, but do you know the law surrounding them? Under The Equality Act 2010, certain businesses and all public spaces need to have disability signs.

However, despite disability visibility improving in recent years, businesses are still being caught out by the law. Employers still fail to make “reasonable adjustments” for employees and customers, which, in 2020, is unacceptable.

Below, we discuss how The Equality Act could affect you, what to do should you need disability signs and how you can make sure you meet the UK’s disability rights.

What Does The Equality Act Say?

The Equality Act is a lengthy and complex piece of legislation. It covers every form of discrimination, delving into the definitions and how to prevent it.

In terms of disabilities, The Equality Act does the following:

  • Defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that has acute or long-term effects on a person’s ability to do daily activities.
  • Demands that businesses and public spaces make “reasonable adjustments” for both employees and customers, including enabling disabled workers to have the same access to everything as a non-disabled worker, where possible.

This has far-reaching effects, but in the case of disabled signs, it simply means employers are responsible for providing signage as a “reasonable adjustment”. This applies to everything from signposting toilets to ensuring safety escape routes are visible for disabled persons.

Of course, an employer’s duty doesn’t just stop at signs. Instead, effective signage should complement existing adjustments. Examples of reasonable adjustments include:

  • Providing ramps or lifts.
  • Making doorways wider, with automatic doors where possible.
  • Have disabled toilets with inclusive signage.

As an employer, don’t feel tempted to put up disabled signs and call it a day. You need to ensure as many adjustments as possible are made to maximise the inclusivity of your business.

How To Use Disability Signs

When using disabled guidance signs, it is important to keep every form of disability in mind. For that reason, ensure these signs are:

  • Placed at every emergency exit.
  • Bright and visible. Ideally, try to make them so that they can be seen at most heights, and ensure that lighting is decent at all times of the day.
  • Sympathetic to all forms of disability, for example having separate adjustments made for wheelchair users and visually impaired people.
  • Clear and concise.
  • Part of the risk assessment and incorporated into the company’s evacuation procedures.

Get High-Quality Disabled Guidance Signs Today

As mentioned, making reasonable adjustments for disabled employees and customers isn’t “nice to have” - it’s the law.

At Label Source, we have a range of disabled guidance signs for different businesses. Whether you’re updating your safety policy or onboarding a disabled member of staff, ensure your business remains safe today.