There’s enough to think about on projects – paperwork, keeping the team on track, monitoring budgets and schedules. Why should we care about health and safety as well? There’s barely enough hours in the day to manage to get a decent work/life balance, without having to worry about a whole host of regulations that don’t really apply to office-based project teams.


Well, health and safety are applicable to more than only civil engineering and construction projects. Just because your project isn’t going to deliver a new bridge or shopping centre, or the architecture for a fancy new office block, doesn’t mean that health and safety are irrelevant for your project team.


Health & safety for project teams

man holding a fire extinguisher

Office-based project teams may think that there’s no need to worry about health and safety-related topics, but it would be wrong to discount these out of hand. The welfare and well-being of your project team should be your concern as a project manager, and there are a number of considerations, even if you think your working environment is very low risk. For example, dangerous trailing cables, unsafe electrical equipment like printers, blocked fire exits or hazardous chemicals not stored correctly. Here are several of the many reasons why you should address these (or make sure that someone else addresses them).


Keeping the team safe

safety equipment helmet gloves

It’s important to keep your project team safe. You shouldn’t ask them to do tasks that are dangerous or that involve unnecessary risk. There are a number of health and safety regulations in the UK and no doubt variations on these in other countries too. Generally, it’s all common sense. Make sure that if your warehouse team have to lift, then they know how to do it safely. If you’re expecting a massive delivery of heavy boxes full of computer kit, allocate the task of unloading the van to a resource who has successfully completed a manual handling course. Keep details of who is appropriately trained and use your project management software, like Seavus ProjectViewer, to keep track of who is allocated to which task.

Of course, there’s more to this than just the regulations. I have known a friend leave a job because the workplace was not safe – it was not maintained to a good standard and he felt unsafe working in the building. The team lost a valuable, experienced member because they ignored basic health and safety issues that would have been easy and relatively cheap to resolve. It is good practice, and simply professional, to ensure that their working environment does not put your team at risk in any way.


Keeping the team morale up

sad face paper cut out bokeh background

There’s nothing more demoralising than coming into work only to find it dirty, dangerous and a horrible place to be. Team morale depends on the working environment, so it is in your interest as a project manager to ensure that the project is carried out in the most appropriate way possible.

Don’t forget that team members spend a lot of time speaking to each other! If one person spots a health and safety issue, they’ll be sure to mention it to colleagues and any detrimental effect on morale will spread quickly.


Avoiding burnout

tired man holding his head over desk

Poor working practices could result in project team members burning themselves out. For example, unsafe and unreliable equipment could result in activities having to be carried out a number of times. If you are always on edge and uneasy in your workplace, that takes its mental toll on your wellbeing which can also affect your performance. The more pleasant (and safe) the working environment, and the more considerate you are towards the needs of your team, the better the overall wellbeing of the team members.



Better for business

business team high five success

Burnout and – in the worst case scenario – injured employees takes people off the project. While losing a key resource is a potential disaster for the project, it’s also a disaster for the individual concerned and their friends and family. From a business perspective, your company could face a tribunal or lawsuit if it is clear that work had something to do with their situation. Aside from the fact that no one wants to see a colleague suffer an accident, it’s bad for business.

Keeping the same resources on projects is cheaper as you don’t have to onboard new resources. It’s easier because you don’t have to explain the background to someone else. It’s faster, as you don’t suffer any downtime finding a replacement.