Health & Safety Tips for the Small Business

23 March 2020

Basic Health & Safety Tips for the Small Business

It doesn’t have to be complicated but even basic steps taken can create a safer and healthier workplace. Why not try the following?

1. Appoint someone competent to assist in managing the health & safety in the business.

This is someone who should have the skills, knowledge and experience needed to help you manage health and safety in your business. Formal qualifications are not required but may help. You could do this yourselves, appoint a worker, or instruct a consultant.

2. Implement a Health & Safety Policy

The law says that every business must have a policy for managing health and safety which will set out your general approach to this area. It explains how you, as an employer, will manage health and safety in your business. It should clearly say who does what, when and how. The policy must be in writing if you have five or more employees.

3. Carry out a Risk Assessment

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum you must do is:

identify what hazards could cause injury or illness in your business

decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)

take action to eliminate the risk, or if this isn’t possible, control it.

4. Consult your workers

You must consult all your employees on health and safety. Have a chat and listen to them on:

health and safety and the work they do

how risks are controlled

the best ways of providing education and training. 

5. Provide information and training

Everyone who works for you needs to know how to work safely and without risk to their health. This means all workers, including contractors and self-employed people. Workers should have training, instructions and information. Be aware of any employees with training requirements, e.g. recent starters or job changers, young employees and health and safety representatives.

6. Make sure you have the right facilities

You must have adequate welfare facilities (toilets, washbasins, drinking water, rest areas), a healthy working environment (a clean and healthy work area), and a safe workplace (well-maintained equipment, with no obstructions, and windows that can be easily opened and cleaned).

7. First Aid 

Employees must get immediate help if taken ill or injured at work. This applies to every workplace and to the self-employed. You must therefore have a properly stocked first aid kit, an appointed first aider, and information for all employees telling them about first aid arrangements.

8. Display the Law poster

If you employ anyone, you must either display a health and safety law poster where your workers can easily read it or provide each worker with an equivalent health and safety law leaflet. The poster explains British health and safety laws and lists what workers and their employers should do.

9. The Law

Both the criminal and civil law apply to health and safety. Employers must protect workers and other persons from getting hurt or ill through work. If you don’t, a regulator such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or local authority may act against you under health and safety legislation, and/or the person affected may make a claim for compensation against you under civil law. 

10. Get insurance

If your business has employees, you will probably need employers' liability insurance. If an employee is injured or becomes ill as a result of the work they do for you, they can claim compensation from you. Employers’ liability insurance will help you to pay any compensation.

11. Have an Accident Reporting Book

If you have more than 10 employees, you must keep an accident book. You can buy one of these or create your own. Keeping records of incidents helps you to identify patterns of accidents and injuries, so you can better assess and manage risk in your workplace. Records can also be helpful when you are dealing with your insurance company. Don’t forget that personal details must be kept private and secure. 

John Davies


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