Small business owners
As a business owner, you hold responsibility for the health and well-being of everyone associated with your business – not only employees but site visitors, families and anyone else facing risks due to any of the work practices carried out on premises.
The law also dictates that the management of a company must comply with health and safety requirements, such as developing a health and safety policy and making suitable arrangements for employee welfare. Risk assessments are a legal requirement, no matter the size of the business, but they need to be written if the company has 5 or more employees.
The Health and Safety at Work Act states that ‘every employer is responsible for their employees’ health, safety and welfare’. Criminal prosecution could arise for any company not adhering to this.
Employers should ensure the workplace is a safe place to work, they must issue personal protective equipment as required, provide health and safety training e.g. safe manual handling, working at height etc. and anything else that is highlighted during a health and safety audit.
All workplaces must display the Health and Safety Law Poster – ‘What you need to know’ in a position where it is accessible for all employees to view.
If the workplace employs five or more people (including Directors), the company must have a written health and safety policy and written risk assessments. All health and safety control measures must be reviewed /assessed by a competent person to ensure their suitability.
The competent person can be an employee of the business or an external consultant, as long as the person(s) have the correct health and safety qualifications and understand health and safety law.
Initially, your internal health and safety appointed employee should walk around a workplace and find any hazards that could cause harm or have an external consultancy undertake a health and safety audit of your workplace and produce an audit report which would highlight any hazards that are evident.
Company management should consider how accidents could occur, what measures could be implemented to negate the risk, and whether or not it’s possible to remove the risk entirely.
If it is not possible to remove a risk in its entirety, control measures must be implemented to reduce the risk to its lowest minimum.
Regular health and safety meetings/briefings with employees are important to discuss health and safety topics raised by management but also from the ‘shop floor’ as a two way process of communication, which is vitally important to promote a good safety culture.
Signage and training
You must display appropriate signage where any particular hazards are likely to be found, warning of things like slippery or unstable surfaces etc. It’s vital that employees are informed of any potential risks to their health and safety, and are made aware of the steps being taken to make them safe whilst at work.
Employers must provide information, training and supervision so that employees know what risks they may face, what measures are in place to deal with those risks and how to follow emergency procedures.
In the event of an accident
All workplaces must have suitable first-aid provisions, including trained first aiders and suitable first aid kits appropriate to the work being conducted and area of the building. The number of trained first aiders and first aid kits needed for a workplace should be assessed during the health and safety audit by a competent person.
Optimum Safety offers health and safety support and specific packages for small businesses as part of their extensive services. Contact us to learn more.