Making the SMART Decision on Laboratory Safety

Thousands of businesses owners, managers and workers are benefiting from using BeSMART.ie. This free, easy to use, online risk assessment and safety statement tool has put the management of health and safety at everyone’s fingertips. It was developed by the Health & Safety Authority as part of their ‘Taking Care of Business’ initiative and since its launch in 2011 almost 50,000 have registered or used it to generate safety statements and risk assessments and many more have visited the site as a source of health and safety information. 

By law, safety and health in your workplace must be effectively managed, but avoiding the negative consequences of accidents or ill health also makes good business sense because accidents and ill health inflict significant costs, often hidden and underestimated.  It is essential that your workplace has a safety statement based on up to date risk assessments.

It may be some time since the risk assessments for your laboratory were prepared or reviewed. Maybe you think that the hazards and hazardous activities in your laboratory are few and checking them is common sense, but it is vital that they are systematically reviewed and documented.

Keeping your risk assessments and safety statement up to date will not in itself prevent accidents and ill health but it will play a crucial part in reducing their likelihood. Employers, managers and supervisors should all ensure that workplace practices reflect the contents of the safety statement and risk assessments. These should be reviewed at least annually and updated if there is reason to believe they are no longer valid, for example when new equipment or processes are introduced. The risk assessments should also be reviewed following investigation of accidents and near misses. The relevant information must be brought to the attention of employees and ongoing checking should be carried out to ensure that what has been laid out in the safety statement is being adhered to.

Laboratory Hazards

The good news is that Laboratory is one of the 300 business types available on BeSMART.ie. BeSMART.ie allows business owners/managers to prepare risk assessments and safety statements in a way that is easy and straightforward. It is easy to use, written in plain English, accessible 24/7 and it is completely confidential. Preparation or reviewing of risk assessments is quicker and more straightforward using BeSMART.ie because the hard work has already been done for you. All you need to do is simply register, select the laboratory business type and answer the questions presented, with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ considering if the measures are in place in your laboratory. You then need to walk around your workplace, consult with your employees and make sure all the hazards have been risk assessed. After all, you and your employees know your workplace better than anyone else. Once complete, you can download, edit and print your document.

The noteworthy benefits of BeSMART.ie are:

  • Easy to navigate and use
  • Easily accessible – available 24/7 at a convenient time and location
  • Free of charge
  • Confidential - only the user has access to their account
  • Uses plain language
  • Laboratory is one of the 300+ different business types available
  • Provides a framework that can be adapted for your own laboratory
  • Support is available to users via telephone or email

When you select the Laboratory business type a range of related hazards will be presented to you. Select any hazard and you can see the recommended control measures.  You can print any hazard to use it as a hardcopy checklist. 

Used correctly BeSMART.ie provides the user with relevant risk assessments, helping to identify if there are any shortcomings and an action list can be generated. Using the ‘Manage Your Actions’ function the user can choose to assign responsibility for actions to individuals and a time-frame within which it should be completed.

BeSMART.ie reminds users that employees must be consulted when carrying out risk assessments. They are the ones doing the work and dealing with the hazards on a daily basis so they will have invaluable input, and involving as many managers and employees as possible will encourage them to share ownership of the finished assessments.

It is worth knowing that the risk assessments and safety statement can refer to specific procedures contained in other documents in use, e.g. operating instructions, company rules etc. Additional information specific to the workplace can also easily be added in to the final document.

A Resource for All 

In addition, BeSMART.ie has within its ‘Learn More’ tab, a section about and for Safety Representatives to signpost them to useful information and resources. It has a wealth of useful information for everyone, such as guidance materials, checklists, videos, information sheets and a link to the HSA’s elearning portal. At hsalearning.ie there is a range of free courses, including an introductory health and safety course for employees. This short course informs learners as to their responsibilities when it comes to health and safety, and what actions they can take to keep themselves and their colleagues safe. Managers can set up a group for their employees to prompt them to complete the course. Successful completion of each course allows learners to download a certificate. While not a formal qualification this certificate can form part of an employees’ training record. Like everything on BeSMART.ie, it’s absolutely free! 

If you need any assistance support is available from the Health & Safety Authority. Queries on BeSMART.ie, chemicals, or any workplace health and safety related matter, should be directed to the HSA’s contact centre at 1890 289 389 or visit www.BeSMART.ie or www.hsa.ie.

BeSMART.ie is empowering thousands of businesses owners and managers to take control of day-to-day safety management. So what are you waiting for? Make the SMART decision on safety and visit BeSMART.ie today!