It may seem like health and safety requirements have gone mad – that the authorities are forever piling needless rules, regulations and red tape on hard working business people. But the truth is accidents do happen in the workplace. Every business has health and safety responsibilities. Here’s what you need to know about it affects your business.
Accidents in the workplace occur because someone does something wrong, or doesn’t do something they should do. Nearly all accidents and things that damage someone’s health are preventable.
Each year in Britain are about 150 people lose their lives, 150,000 people are injured and about two million suffer from ill health caused or made worse by work. And small businesses have more than their fair share of incidents - for example, the fatality rate in small and medium size manufacturers is about twice that of large ones.
As an employer – even if you only employ yourself – you have a legal responsibility to prevent people being harmed or becoming ill in the workplace. This makes good business sense too – accidents and health incidents can cause disruption, lead to extra expense and damage your reputation.
Here are common health and safety incidents:
You need to establish a system to manage health and safety. For example:
If you’re subjected to a health and safety inspection you may need to provide evidence that you have a properly thought-through and systematic approach.
If you employ more than five people you must set out your approach in a written health and safety policy statement. Creating a policy doesn’t need to be a time consuming and complicated process. The Health and Safety Executive provides templates and examples of such statements.
It’s impossible to eliminate every risk but the law requires you to take ‘reasonable and practical’ steps to protect people, including yourself.
If you have employees you must provide them with clear guidance and training. For example, ensure that they have a good understanding of:
Health and safety training needs to happen during working hours and you must not expect employees to pay for it themselves.
The decision on what to provide will be influenced by the findings of the first-aid needs assessment. As a guide, where work activities involve low hazards, a minimum stock of first-aid items.Find out more
When an employer's first-aid needs assessment indicates that a first-aider is unnecessary, the minimum requirement is to appoint a person to take charge of first-aid arrangements.Find out more
Signs should be placed where they can be seen and not obstructed from view. They should also be easily identified.Find out more
A trained first-aider is needed in a workplace where there are more significant health and safety risks.Find out more
There are two types of insurance related to health and safety:
HSE has developed interactive tools to help those working in low-risk offices and shops to understand how to assess and control risks in the workplace and comply with health and safety law.Read more
The concept of an ethical business is one that has gathered much attention in recent years. If you want to mantain your business reputation you need to be free from accusations of unethical behaviour.Read more
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