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New Businesses Health and Safety in Check

First aid kit on laptop keyboard

If you’re setting up a new business, or have recently already done so, then health and safety may be the last thing on your mind.  Lets face it, there are plenty of more interesting things to think about like branding, promotions and kitting out your premises.  But, by not giving it the priority it needs your venture could be over before it’s even had a chance.  Unfortunately for small businesses, which are in a particularly precarious position, personal injury claims can not only be financially crippling, but also have the potential to destroy you and your business’ reputation.

Every business, no matter how small, has a legal responsibility for keeping a safe working environment for its employees and also for the safety of any member of the general public who may be visiting the premises.  That means anyone who sustains an injury can press charges if your business is found to be at fault and has neglected its health and safety responsibilities.

As you can see keeping abreast of health and safety regulations and maintaining a robust and easy to manage Health & Safety system is essential and should be the foundations of everything you do.  When approached in the right way and actioned regularly it isn’t as daunting as it first seems.

The routine execution of risk assessments is one of the most important things you should do from day one.  This involves inspecting your premises to identify any potential hazards.  It may be the most time consuming activity as you need to consider everything and anything that poses a threat of injury, but once a detailed list has been made you then have a good framework to work from.  Once you have complete your first risk assessment you will then need to implement measures to control the identified risks.

There are some great case studies on the Health & Safety Executive website where you can see sample risk assessments from a variety of different small and medium sized businesses.  Risk assessments then needs to be executed regularly and it is important to document your findings as well as any actions taken as a result.

Aside from risk assessments there are also other legal responsibilities you have:

  • To display the current Health & Safety Law Poster which can be obtained from the HSE
  • For businesses of more than five employees you must write a Health & Safety Policy, templates of which can be found on the HSE website here
  • To ensure your employees are in receipt of health & safety training and documentation educating them on your Health & Safety Policy and how to carry out their jobs safely.  You must also update them should any changes occur
  • To keep an accident book and ensure all accidents are reported.  It is also your responsibility to provide immediate medical attention for any illness or injury that occurs at work.  You will need a well-stocked first aid box and ideally an appointed first aider who has received first-aid training from an approved organisation
  • To provide workplace facilities for your employees.  A full list of these can be found here on the HSE website but includes Welfare Facilities – such as toilets, basins and soap, Health Issues – such as maintaining a reasonable working temperature, waste receptacles, adequate lighting and good ventilation, and Safety – which includes maintained premises and equipment, windows that open and the use of safety or toughened glass in windows and doors
  • Finally, make sure your business is covered by liability insurance from an FCA authorised insurer.  This insurance will help you to cover compensation costs should a court find you liable for an injury at work.

You can make the load slightly lighter on yourself by supporting a two-way flow of health and safety information in your organisation which can be achieved by encouraging your employees to identify and report any concerns they have as well as to put forward their suggestions of where improvements could be made. This could be via surveys or face-to-face discussions, whichever way works best for your set up.

So move Health & Safety up your list of things to do and please don’t bury your head in the sand as it may come back to bite you.

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