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A Small Businesses Guide to Health and Safety

This is a collaborative post

Are you the proud owner of a budding new enterprise? If so, are you up to date with all the health and safety rules and regulations for small businesses? If you aren’t, it could be extremely detrimental to the future of your business. Complying with the law doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming. 

If you are running a small, low-risk business, it is quite straightforward to make sure that you comply with the necessary regulations—the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is the main piece of legislation that covers workers and businesses’ health and safety necessities in Great Britain. Read on for more information.

Does a Small Business Need a Health and Safety Policy?

In general, these health and safety laws apply to all businesses, regardless of whether you are an employer or self-employed; you are responsible for the health and safety of all employees or members of the public in your workplace. 

That being said, the Health and Safety Executive does understand that there is a difference between a one-person IT business vs a construction business with hundreds of employees. And so, the rules do take this into account, and they only require you to take an approach or implement rules and procedures that are proportionate to the size and type of business that you run.

For most businesses, the most important requirement is that people are protected from harm that could be caused by the business’s activities. If you do this, then you’ll also be ensuring that your business’ reputation is safeguarded. 

For example, if you run a construction business, then you are obliged to make sure that all of your staff is wearing the proper protective gear. Whether you provide this or make it their responsibility, they have to wear it. Safety Boots is an online retailer that sells safety boots and trainers as well as other safety clothing and PPE. As the employer, you can encourage your staff to buy from here as they are a reputable company, and you know that your staff will be protected. 

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What is ‘Risk’ in the Workplace?

A risk in the workplace is anything that can cause harm or is classed as a hazard. You need to determine how likely the cause of harm is by each hazard and how serious this harm could be. This can differ from business to business, but as a starting point, it should include things like electrical safety, fire safety, manual handling, slips and trips, and lastly, working at height.

Controlling Risks

Taking control of any risks is an integral part of the management of health and safety in your workplace. Take the time to do a thorough walkthrough of your business and identify any things that may cause harm to people. If you have employees, you could ask them for their opinions on it as they may see risks that you are unaware of. 

The next step is to then take precautions to try and eliminate those risks so that they cannot cause harm. Who would likely be harmed if something was to happen? Are you taking any steps already? By in large, it comes down to common sense. Everyday risks are often assumed, so you should only catalogue any findings that you deem significant. Unless you have fewer than five staff members as then, there is no paperwork necessary. 

What About Those Who are Self-Employed?

If you are self-employed and your work does not pose any threat or risk to the health and safety of other works or members of the public, then the health and safety laws do not apply to you. However, you need to judge for yourself whether your work poses a risk or not. For example, if you are a self-employed fairground ride operator, then members of the public will use your ride, and this could cause harm to them, and so you should then take steps to reduce this risk and protect your customers from harm. 

Final Considerations 

If you have over five employees, then you are duty-bound to produce a written risk assessment. If you have any number of employees, though, you need to remember to consult them on your health and safety policy. In addition, it is important to provide employees with the right training and information to ensure compliance. You are also obligated to provide any facilities that your staff will need such as toilets, sinks, soap, towels or a hand-dryer, somewhere that they can rest and eat and lastly there has to be a nominated first aider who is trained. 

In Conclusion

When you run a business, you are responsible for those around you. Failure to adhere to health and safety regulations can lead to heavy financial and personal repercussions. Any manager worth their salt should always prioritise people over profit. 

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post

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