How to avoid sacrificing staff safety when cutting back on energy costs

Gavin Scarr Hall - Director of Health and Safety

October 05 2022

Amid the ongoing energy crisis, business owners are desperate to start bringing their costs down. And this desperation may lead to some questionable energy-saving tactics...

Sacrificing HR and health & safety compliance to save on energy bills will not only put your company at legal risk, but also the safety and wellbeing of your staff.

So, before you find ways to reduce your energy bill, remember these important considerations…

1. Your workplace should be well lit

You might think turning off or dimming your lights in the workplace is a good way to save energy. But this could unleash a host of health & safety problems.

With poor lighting, there’s a higher risk of staff not being able to see potential hazards like unsteady flooring or obstructions. This could result in them tripping up and injuring themselves.

Particularly for high-risk work environments where your workers have to operate machinery, there needs to be a good amount of lighting.

Poor lighting can also cause issues like eye strain, blurred vision, headaches, and fatigue. This can then have a knock-on effect on overall staff productivity, morale, and attendance.

So, be mindful of this or you risk sacrificing a lot more than your energy…

2. Your workplace temperature shouldn’t drop below 13°C

Turning your heating off can also put you at legal risk if your workplace temperature dips too far.

HSE has specific rules businesses must follow when it comes to workplace temperatures. For indoor workplaces, you need to keep temperatures at around 16°C, or 13°C depending on how strenuous the work activity is.

You should check in with your workers to see how they’re finding the temperature. Then, you can adjust the temperature accordingly to keep them comfortable.

According to studies, a big chunk of heating costs comes down to wasted heat and poor insulation. So, to make the most of your heating:

  • check if there’s anything causing draughts (if you do draught-proof your doors, make sure not to block any fire exits)
  • instruct your workers to keep doors and windows closed when they’re not being used

3. You need to follow rules for remote workers

Flexible working is becoming a must-have for many workers and job seekers. You might already have staff who work from home or split their time between home and your workplace.

Letting your staff work from home can be cost-effective for you and your workers. You can save on energy costs in your workplace and your staff can save on travel costs.

But it’s important you follow certain rules for remote workers, like making sure they have:

  • a comfortable workspace
  • company equipment (if needed)
  • regular breaks throughout the day

You should also make sure you have a written remote working policy that outlines your home working rules. This ensures your staff know what’s expected of them and what they should expect from you.

You’ll also need to check in on them regularly. Working from home may be an isolating experience for some, so regular communication is key. Also, provide them with emergency contact information, so they know who to reach out to if they need support.

Which leads on to the next point…

4. You need to be mindful of mental health

The rising energy prices are worrying for everyone. And your staff might be feeling anxious and concerned over their financial situation.

It’s important to remember that mental health needs to be a priority. You have a duty of care to look after the health & safety of your staff – and that includes their mental wellbeing. Consider how your methods of saving energy might impact mental health.

Some workers might appreciate working from home, others might not. Some workers might struggle if temperatures get lower or they can’t carry out normal routines. Be mindful of this. If your staff express concerns, listen and be willing to make changes to support them if necessary.

Encourage open discussions about mental health in your workplace. And if you have an EAP service, now is the time to promote it or consider setting one up.

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Let the experts look after your staff, while you look after your business.

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5. You may need an energy saving policy

With energy cost hikes, you can help keep your costs down by having a dedicated energy-saving policy.

Having a policy means you can outline energy-saving guidelines to staff that will help you cut your costs.

Ultimately, everyone in your workplace needs to be onboard if you want to make your workplace greener. So, a policy can help make sure:

  • you follow the right steps to boost your energy efficiency
  • you stay compliant with HSE and employment laws
  • everyone in your workplace understands your green agenda

To find out how to set up a policy or learn more about our documentation services, call 0800 028 2420 for a free consultation.

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