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Health and Safety for small businesses

Health and Safety is paramount not just to your employees but also for the reputation of your business. You're responsible for the health and safety and welfare for everyone affected by your business and its activities, including your employees (whether they work on your premises another site such as an additional office or from home), all visitors, even members of the public if they're outside your premises.

The first thing that a business needs to do is to conduct a risk assessment covering all safety aspects your business faces. Ensure that you cover all aspects of your business and highlight any potential hazards, no matter how trivial they may seem. Remember, you must act upon the findings of your risk assessment rather than sweeping it aside for the future, act now to combat any risks. 

You also need to look at introducing a policy which addresses how you deal with health & safety issues. Managing risks is not just about legislation, it combines common sense and corporate responsibility at all levels throughout your company. Effective planning and good leadership is instrumental in ensuring effective safety procedures. Workers also have responsibility to look after their own health & safety and that of their colleagues. 

If you have not done so already then you must take out an Employers Liability Compulsory Insurance and the certificate should be shown. Your staff may be injured or become ill because of their employment for you. As a consequence they might try to claim compensation from you. Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance provides you with cover against claims like these and you must ensure you use an authorised insurer. 

Whether you employ one person or twenty people you must display the HSE’s (Health & Safety Executive) health and safety law poster.  The poster includes health and safety information and lets staff, visitors and contractors know who is responsible for the health and safety within your workplace. Display the poster where your workers can easily read it, and ensure it is kept in a readable condition. 

Furthermore you must also ensure that the all of your staff including self-employed people know how to work safely and that they can carry out their duties risk free. So ensure that they are trained to know hazards and any risks they may face. Ensure regular training is carried out especially where new equipment is involved. All training should take place during work hours at the expense of the company. Training should be repeated and updated on a regular basis and where seen fit to do so.  For example, an employee may fill in for an absent worker and as a consequence the individual undertakes a job role that they may not be familiar with. Ensure you keep documentation of all training undertaken and that the recorded information is available for inspection at any time. 

As a responsible employer you need to ensure the welfare of your employees and provide for their welfare needs including those individuals with disabilities. For example you should provide appropriate toilets and washing facilities. Give consideration to lighting and temperature. Welfare also includes the provision of drinking water, facilities for rest and changing areas if needed. 

Finally, Health & Safety legislation dictates that you must consult with your workers on health & safety. This should be a consultation exercise to gain their views on safety issues, risks and your plans to make the workplace a safer place. Concerns should be taken seriously and acted upon where possible. 

Health & safety is a very important issue that any new employer should take seriously however taking shortcuts can prove fatal, so if you think health & safety is expensive, just wait and see how costly an accident can be!

For further details on how to protect your business on health and safety issues, contact Ian Parkins (07966 112071) or David Rainford (0161 827 9918)

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