10 basic steps to help address Health and Safety in your business
Health and safety does not have to be complicated, costly or time consuming. In general health and safety laws apply to all businesses.
Here are 10 simple steps to take:
- Decide who will help you with your health and safety duties – your competent person
As an employer you must appoint someone competent to help you with your employer health and safety duties and obligations. Whilst there is no definitive definition of a competent person, generally speaking a competent person is an individual who has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety. In high-risk businesses, you may want to seek the assistance and delegate this task to a dedicated health and safety consultant and or manager – although you must remember that doing this will not mean you can delegate accountability. For low-risk businesses, health and safety is something you may want to manage yourself without the need to buy in any external resource.
- Have a health and safety policy for your business
Having a health and safety policy will not only let your staff know about your commitment to their wellbeing in the workplace, but also clearly sets out who does what, when and how. Remember, your health and safety policy does not need to be complicated.
- Assess and control the risks in your business
All you need to do is think about what, in your business, may cause harm to your employees, visitors and/or customers and then think about what reasonable steps you are taking to reduce that risk. When a hazard is identified, take sensible measures to control those risks.
If you have more than 5 employees, you should record your findings and focus on the control measures. If you have less than 5 employees, you do not need to record your findings, but it does not mean you don’t have to do anything!
It is impossible to remove all risks and you are not expected to anticipate the unforeseeable, indeed the law does not require you to do this, but what you are required to do is to protect people by putting in place control measures so far as reasonably practical.
- Consult with your workforce
Your workforce are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace. By involving your employees it allows staff to raise concerns regarding hazards in the work place. You have to, in any event, consult with your employees on health and safety telling them about health and safety in relation to the work they do and how risks are controlled.
Everyone, including your employees must do their bit too!
Your workforce needs to know how to work safely – whilst a lot of it may be common sense – it is important that you ensure that your employee knows how to work safely and without risks to their health. You must provide your employees with clear instructions and information, with adequate training to ensure that they can do their job in a safe working environment.
Information and training must be provided to your workforce that is easy to understand – everyone should know what they are expected to do.
- Provide the right workplace environment and facilities
Providing your workforce with the right working environment and facilities is particularly important. A lot of it is common sense. Some basic things you should consider are welfare facilities, such as functional washrooms with toilets and hand basins with soap and towels (or dryer); fresh drinking water; a place to store clothing such as winter coats or somewhere to change if specialist clothing is required to be changed into; somewhere to take rest breaks and eat meals away from their desks.
Making sure that your workforce has a healthy working environment by ensuring that there is ventilation in the workplace; temperatures are controlled to suitable levels to the type of work being carried out; appropriate lighting and ensuring there is sufficient space and appropriate workstations to carry out the type of work each employee is required to carry out; ensuring that the workplace has the appropriate waste disposal.
- First aid, accident and ill health arrangements
You must have first-aid arrangements in your workplace. In the unfortunate event that there is an injury or anyone is ill, it is your responsibility to ensure that they receive immediate attention. Accidents in the work place or an individual taking ill can happen at any time and first aid at the earliest opportunity can save lives and/or prevent minor injuries becoming more serious.
You will need to assess what first aid arrangements are best for your business as this will be different for every company. High-risk companies will need specific first aid arrangements in place. For low-risk companies, at the very least you should have a fully stocked first aid kit; an appointed first aider and have informed your workforce of the first aid arrangements.
- Display the health and safety law poster
You must display the Health and Safety Law Poster where your workers can read it – regardless of how many employees you may have in your workforce. As an alternative, you may want to provide each worker with an equivalent pocket size card.
In employment, the only compulsory insurance you will need is employee liability insurance – this is only required if you have an employee working for you under a contract of employment or an apprentice.
Public liability insurance covers claims by members of the public and is not compulsory, however depending on your business, it may be advisable.
- Keep your business up to date
It is essential that you keep your health and safety policies and risk assessments up to date. Following news and events in your industry will help keep you informed of any changes that you may need to make to health and safety in your business.
Remember, this is a simple guide and each step should be considered in further detail. The approach you take should be proportionate to the size of your business and the nature of your business activity. For most small, low risk businesses the steps you need to take are relatively straightforward.
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