Emergency eyewash station & safety shower training: keep your staff safe
Getting your staff excited about emergency eyewash and safety shower training
“Health and safety gone mad” is a phrase heard in workplaces up and down the land, accompanied by groans of despair from employees who aren’t thrilled at the prospect of having to tick boxes, attend workshops and sit through hours of tiresome training. Emergency eyewash training can often fall into this category: uninteresting, tedious yet necessary- unless done correctly.
Why is Health and Safety so important at work?
Irksome as it may be for employees, adequate safety training in the workplace should be a high priority, particularly in light of these Health and Safety statistics released by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) in 2018.
Key stats from the report indicate that:
There were 144 fatal injuries to workers in 2017/18 in the UK
There were 0.6 million non-fatal injuries to workers in 2017/18
30.7 million working days were lost due to illness and non-fatal injuries in 2017/18
The annual costs of work-related injuries and new illnesses in 2016/17, (excluding illnesses like cancer), came to £15 billion.
Hazardous substances are a real risk
As experts in safety eyewash equipment, we’re naturally interested in injuries that relate to hazardous substances and harmful chemicals. This may sound morbid, but it’s what we do- take safety seriously.
A recent study of an A&E unit in a Scottish hospital found that of all eye patients who attended, 31% were due to work related eye-injuries. 56% of those were not wearing any protection. The logical conclusion of the study was that “Provision of appropriate eyewear protection and worker education is required to minimize the incidence of injury in the workplace” .
The stats above apply to many industry types, but workplace injury risks seem to be higher in agriculture, construction, laboratories, transport, and manufacturing, according to the HSE research. They also represent a significant loss of health, time and money for staff and companies alike.
Now, all this may sound a little doom and gloom, but as the saying goes, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’, and this is particularly relevant when it comes to preventing eye-injuries or chemical accidents.
What does the law say
Brace yourself, here’s the legal bit.
There are certain responsibilities employers have towards keeping their staff in good health. We could spend all day talking about the multitude of laws in place, but fear not, we won’t- instead, here’s a brief summary of a few of the most important Acts and Regulations governing H&S at work:
The Health and Safety at Work Act etc Act 1974 - this is still the leading piece of legislation presiding over safety at work in the U.K. It details the general duties of staff and employers.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 - an addition to the act of 1974 above, which essentially asks employers to undertake risk assessments.
And as if that wasn’t enough, there are a few British and European Standards for things like Personal Eye Protection that are also relevant:
Personal eye protection specifications BS EN 166:2002. ISBN 0 580 38916 2
Emergency safety showers and plumbed-in eye-wash units: BS EN 15154-2:2006
With so many laws and standards to bear in mind, keeping on the good side of both the government and your employees when it comes to H&S training can be a daunting prospect- especially when it comes to the correct use of safety equipment like emergency eyewash stations or drench showers, both potentially life-saving apparatus.
So what can a discerning safety manager or health and safety professional do?
Education, education, education (in the workplace)
We know that it makes sense to have a decent safety training programme at work. Most companies will already have a work safety risk assessment in place, which should identify potential dangers, but this alone is not enough. Education ensures that staff are informed of all of the potential risks to themselves while at work, and that they also know what to do when there’s an accident- including carrying out first aid for eyes in the event of chemical spillages and/or contact with hazardous substances. It’s also not enough to train your employees once: training should be regular, so that operating safety equipment becomes second nature.
There are many options for companies these days to put emergency shower and eyewash station training in place, depending on the needs of the business.
The HSE states that all training should be performed during working hours, and that employees should not have to pay for it. To that end, it makes sense and is a cost-effective approach to train staff in-house. The HSE also provide a great leaflet on how to train employees in-house, and we’ll look at this in a little more detail in a moment. Key to training staff properly is to ensure they have easy access at all times to eyewash station training materials and instructions on the correct way to use safety showers.
E-learning is a great way of reaching large numbers of employees on a more flexible basis than through workshops or training days. Staff can learn while sitting at their desks, meaning less disruption to their working day. Of course this only suits desk-based staff- those who are not-desk bound will not find this a convenient approach.
Plenty of organisations offer good H&S training. The more recognisable external trainers such as the British Safety Council offer a wide range of accredited courses.
The challenge of engagement
So how do you achieve employee buy-in, and make safety equipment training an inclusive, two-way street? Here are some of our top tips:
It’s time to get theatrical. Experience has proven that people learn best when they apply knowledge to a real-life scenario, and this is particularly true when it comes to first-aid training. Your staff need to understand how to properly use emergency equipment in the workplace, such as first aid kits. And while operating emergency eye-wash stations and using safety showers properly might seem like a common sense activity, it isn’t.
When an accident occurs, speed is of the essence, particularly with hazardous substances. Therefore it makes sense to carry out safety shower training by walking employees through practical demonstrations, and nothing gets ingrained in the memory more effectively than role-play.
Set up a scenario, give each member of staff a character to play, and then simulate an eye-injury or chemical splash. This gives you the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how to properly use safety equipment. You could even film the role-plays, and re-run them during future sessions so that employees can learn from mistakes and enjoy their own, Oscar-worthy performances.
Mix up the media
Companies like Convergence Training offer great training videos for eyewash stations online- obviously, an animated video is not as good as a practical demonstration or a physical scenario, but great as a refresher technique. Your company may want to produce its own series of similar tutorials- even a simple demonstration filmed on a smartphone and uploaded to Youtube can be a great, and cost-effective, way of keeping knowledge of safety equipment in front of mind.
Games and competitions
Test people’s learning with short quizzes, and incentivise them to remember facts by offering prizes. Incentive based learning is effective and easy to carry out (with a compelling enough prize).
Set a good example
Make sure managers get on board and train alongside employees, setting a good standard and promoting an environment where the safety of staff is seen to be of vital importance.
Keep it light
Wake staff up with humour. This does not mean belittling the potential hazards, or making fun of particular incidents, but it does mean adding a sense of levity. Use fun stats, amusing online videos, visual media like posters and role-playing scenarios where each employee has a ‘character’ to play that keeps them entertained.
Training not effective enough? Ask your employees for feedback at the end of any training course, and use their observations to continually improve the training you offer.
Hopefully, you’ve found this guide to getting your staff on board with onerous H&S training useful. In our opinion, engagement relies on taking a human approach to training, while always keeping an eye on the most important and up-to date legal requirements.
And remember, if you have any questions about essential safety equipment like eyewash stations or emergency and safety showers, our dedicated team of experts is on hand to answer your enquiries- we’re specialist suppliers. Simply call 01275 390643.