Let’s be honest, health and safety is probably not high up on your to do list as an owner or manager, but it’s so very important to be on top of your health and safety game. Not only do accidents and work-related illnesses stem from poor health and safety management, but overlooking it can lead to high costs in terms of sick pay, absence and claims for compensation. You absolutely don’t want to face criminal prosecution, damage to the reputation of your brand or lose money. Happily, for most businesses Health and Safety arrangements don’t need to be complicated or time consuming, they are simply about having processes in place to identify risks and taking steps to protect you and your employees from those risks. Additionally, the vast majority of work related injuries, incidents and ill health are avoidable with good health and safety management.
Many elements of Health and Safety law will apply to you whilst you run a business and employ people. Some really specific bits of the law may also apply, depending on what your company does, whether customers visit you (or not), what products or processes you use, the type of work you do (i.e. working at height, or with electricity etc), and so on – but let’s not open that can of worms right now and just get to grips with the basics first.
Health and Safety basics
The most important piece of law to know about (which applies to employers of all sizes) is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The key responsibilities of employers and employees are:
The duty of an employer is to reasonably ensure the health, safety and welfare of all their employees and others who may be affected by the way that they go about their work.
This covers customers, visitors, contractors, neighbours, members of the public (even those who wander in through an open door).
To take reasonable care of their own Health and Safety and those that may be affected by their actions.
To co-operate with their employer to enable them to comply with their health and safety duties. To use equipment and safe systems of work provided by their employer as instructed.
- First aid kit – keep it fully stocked and make sure everyone knows where it is.
- Identify the risks in your Health and Safety policy that communicates both yours and your employee’s responsibilities. A Health and Safety policy is a legal requirement if you have upwards of 5 employees.
- Put up a poster – it’s a requirement for a business of any size.
- Outline emergency procedures – such as what to do in case of a fire or flood.
- Training – you must provide clear instructions and information to your employees. It doesn’t have to become a mammoth task and can be done as part of your onboarding process.
- Monitor and report – You are required to provide an accident book so employees can report any accidents or near misses to you. This reporting will allow you to investigate any accidents or near misses so that you are able to prevent them from happening again.
Need extra advice on managing health and safety?
It can be daunting for a small business to try to figure out what it needs to do regarding Health and Safety. We can help.
citrusHR’s H&S section contains a number of key Health and Safety documents, intended for use in low risk environments. Only you know your work environment, so we’ll aim to guide you and steer you in the right direction, but if you’re unsure about anything then you should take specific advice. We have experts on hand to help you to identify and build more specific tools, should your employees work in a higher risk environment or if you have specific needs.
You can also use our HR software to help comply with health and safety law. Our web-based software will store details of any health and safety peeps you have in your team, such as fire wardens or first aiders, and will remind you if any of these people leave so that you have time to train or appoint other members of your team. If you want you can give your staff access to this, too, and they can then see where your first aid kit is stored, who to talk to about first aid or fires, and where to assemble in the event of a fire.
To find out more about our small business Health & Safety support, and the citrusHR service, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team on 0333 444 0165 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org