Sustainability and Safety at Work

Sustainability and Safety at Work
2 March 2023

Sustainability and Safety at Work

By now, we’re all used to hearing the term ‘sustainability’ thrown around, and with good reason. But how do safety and sustainability relate to one another in the workplace?

For business owners and employees alike, considerations around environmental health, safety, and sustainability are closely linked. The word ‘sustainability’ was defined as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ in the 1987 United Nations Brundtland Commission. 

This is a broad statement that covers the four main pillars of sustainability: 

  • Human sustainability
  • Social sustainability
  • Economic sustainability
  • Environmental sustainably 

In modern society, these pillars are deeply interlinked and complex. Ultimately, sustainability refers to the conservation of resources, most often referring to working towards protecting the environment by reducing CO2 emissions, minimising plastic waste, and preserving the natural resources that we rely on as a society. The ultimate goal of sustainability is to protect the future of the planet from environmental decline and ensure that both nature and our society can sustain life for generations to come. 

Steroplast Healthcare are committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2035 when we plan to have reduced our emissions by 100%.
See our complete Carbon Reduction Commitment here.

Horse in Brecon Beacons National Park, UK

Many UK businesses are coming under increasing pressure to work towards environmentally-conscious goals by introducing measures to meet sustainable business KPIs and taking on environmental and social responsibilities stipulated by law. With this in mind, many business are also looking at their sustainability with regards to the ‘Three Ps’: 

  • People
  • Planet
  • Profit

Any and all businesses’ most valuable resources are their employees, and so taking the health and safety of your workers seriously and protecting them from injury or illness in the workplace is a vital part of conserving business resources. 

Maintaining optimal health and safety in the workplace is not just common sense or a legal requirement but a way for vital resources to be conserved in order to sustain business operations and profitability. And when it comes to environmental sustainability, health and safety measures in the workplace can often be eco-friendly and cost-effective, too, if you know how to make the right choices that take the people, the planet, and the bottom line profit into consideration. 

Now we have a better understanding of how safety and sustainability are linked, we’ll take a look at the ways in which UK businesses can make sustainable choices around their health and safety measures in the workplace. It’s possible to find planet-friendly and budget-friendly health and safety alternatives that will keep your employees safe and comply with the UK’s HSE laws.

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Sustainable First Aid at Work

First aid is a workplace essential, and all UK businesses are required by law to ensure first aid and health and safety requirements are met to protect employees at work. Accidents can happen at any time, so having premium first aid supplies and a qualified first aider on hand in the event of any emergency is legally-required safety essential for all workplaces.

If you’re a business owner wondering where your responsibilities lie, we cover everything you need to know about the UK’s legal requirements for workplace first aid kits on our blog, including essential workplace first aid kit contents and where to install them so you can make sure you’re prepared. We also have a wide range of HSE-compliant first aid kits available for purchase to ensure your workplace has everything in place that it should.  

But how sustainable is a first aid kit in the workplace? Is there an environmentally friendly, cost-effective option?

It’s widely agreed that along with the rest of us, the healthcare, emergency care, and first aid sectors need to find ways to reduce plastic waste, find sustainable solutions for plastic use, such as alternative materials for plastic medical supplies, and work to improve plastic recycling in healthcare. 

As a reputable healthcare supplier, Steroplast is also working towards improving environmental sustainability. Health and safety in all workplaces is a vital part of this, so we’re here to support UK businesses to contribute to sustainable first aid efforts at work in actionable ways.

Many eco-conscious people out there are looking at environmentally-friendly first aid options such as all-natural first aid kits, and zero-waste first aid solutions and finding reusable first aid items that they can clean and use again. However, these options are most often impractical or unsafe options to implement in the workplace.

An Eco-friendly HSE First Aid Kit will Support Safety and Sustainability Efforts at Work

One of the most actionable health and safety considerations for environmental sustainability can be addressed when considering your first aid supplies. 

We’re aware of the excessive amount of plastic waste globally and want to support our customers to make sustainable choices when it comes to health, safety and first aid. We’ve worked with industry experts to develop one of the UK’s first recycled and eco-friendly first aid kits

Ideal for anyone, including business owners, who want to cut down on plastic use and promote sustainable solutions, this eco-friendly first aid kit contains essential Steroplast-approved reduced-plastic supplies without compromising on quality.

Supplied in a 100% recycled durable first aid container that’s clearly labelled for optimal visibility, it’s contents have been put together to ensure it’s fully compliant with HSE regulations and has been based on our best-selling HSE workplace first aid kit. The majority of the first aid supplies included are wrapped in sealed medical-grade paper that will maintain sterility until use, and can be fully recycled, rather than plastic wrapping that will end up in landfill.

See the table below for the contents of the kit, and take a look at the sustainable packaging choices we made that will reduce waste without compromising on safety and quality. 

Alcohol-Free Wipes10Laminate Sachet
First Aid Emergency Leaflet1N/A
Safety Pins (Pack)1Pinned Together
Triangular Bandage4Loose Paper Wrap
Vinyl Gloves (Pair)1Paper Wallet
Washproof Plasters20Card Wallet
Wound Dressing (Eyepad)2Paper Packet
Wound Dressing (Medium)6Paper Packet
Wound Dressing (Large)2Paper Packet

Businesses are required to check through their workplace first aid supplies regularly to ensure everything is in date and safe to use in an emergency. If you find you have out-of-date supplies that need replacing and don’t know what to do with the expired products check out our article: How to Dispose of Used or Out of Date First Aid Supplies

Uniquely Sustainable in the UK
Eco-Friendly First Aid Range

Discover our selection of high-quality, eco-friendly first aid products. Packaged thoughtfully in recycled materials and designed with minimal plastic use.

Other Sustainable Health and Safety Choices in the Workplace

While first aid is a vital part of your health and safety measures at work, there are other environmentally conscious choices you can make too. Some additional health and safety considerations for environmental sustainability improvements in the workplace include:

Assessing Fire Extinguishers in the Workplace

Fire extinguishers are required by law in the vast majority of UK workplaces and while they’re most definitely an essential safety measure to protect employees and the wider public in the event of a fire, it’s possible to minimise on waste or excessive use of resources with regards to fire safety in your business. 

The British government’s 2005 Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO) offers detailed guidance for UK businesses about their legal fire safety responsibilities in workplaces and public spaces. The fire safety RRO’s short guide to making your premises safe from fire advises that:

As a rule of thumb you should have one extinguisher for every 200 metre squared (m2) of floor space with at least one on each floor

Despite this, many businesses have an excessive number of fire extinguishers on-site, leading to wasted resources and an increase in the number of fire extinguishers that need to be disposed of when they reach their expiry date.

While we will always recommend that you adhere to all safety laws to keep your staff safe and premises fully compliant, it’s worth taking some time to review your first safety risk assessment and address areas where waste can be reduced. 

It’s also well worth investing in fire extinguishers that have a long shelf life (higher-quality fire extinguishers can typically last up to 10-12 years, while some cheaper options will only last for 2-3 years). We also recommend considering using the services of a qualified fire safety company to regularly service your fire safety equipment to maintain their safety and sustainability. Some fire extinguishers can even be refilled after use or on expiry rather than being disposed of and contributing to your business’ waste.

Safe and Sustainable Waste Management in Your Business

‘Reduce, reuse, and recycle’ is a now commonplace phrase, and most businesses will already have some measures in place to minimise disposable waste. These measures often include cleaning and reusing items, printing on less paper and digitising information where possible, and providing recycling bins to encourage staff to recycle waste and reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in landfill.

On top of this, when it comes to encouraging sustainability, health and safety responsibilities around waste management can be looked at too. Many businesses don’t have measures in place for safely disposing of sharp objects, including broken glass, needles, syringes, or broken equipment, in a safe, environmentally friendly way. These hazardous items referred to as ‘sharps’ can pose serious danger and risk of injury to your staff, the general public, and the surrounding environment if not disposed of responsibly.

We recommend investing in a sharps bin and educating your team on how to use it safely. Make sure to store your sharps bin in a safe place, so it's not a risk to other people and is out of the sight and reach of children. When your sharps bin becomes full, seek advice from your local council authority to ensure it is disposed of safely and doesn’t end up posing a safety risk to people or the environment around you.

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