Every business needs adequate health and safety provision – no matter what its size. All businesses, including small businesses need to consider health and safety.
As well as being law, it is part of being a good employer to make sure your employees aren’t at risk of any injury as a result of the work they do for you.
It’s not just your employees that health and safety is important for, it’s there to protect any visitors, customers, sub-contractors and the general public who may work for you, do business with you or come into contact with your organisation in any way.
Alongside regular checks and immediate action on any arising concerns, a small business should have a proportionate risk assessment.
Why do small businesses need a risk assessment?
A risk assessment is important for a small business because it helps identify potential hazards and assess the risks associated with them.
This information can then be used to put in place measures to protect employees and minimise the chances of an accident or injury happening.
By conducting a risk assessment, a business can start to identify and prevent any unnecessary risks to its employees, contractors, or visitors.
What is in a small business risk assessment?
A risk assessment is essentially an audit of potential hazards present in the workplace which results in measures taken to avoid these hazards becoming dangerous. They consider:-
- who might be harmed and how
- what you’re already doing to control the risks
- what further action you need to take to control the risks
- who needs to carry out the action
- when the action is needed by
For example a risk assessment for a small baking business may consider a risk of injury to staff when using the bakery machinery such as an oven.
Measures to control these risks could include warning signage for hot areas, providing staff with training in the safe use of the bakery machinery and wearing the correct personal protective equipment e.g. oven gloves when using the ovens to prevent burns.
One note to bear in mind is that if your business employs more than five people, this risk assessment must be written down. Having good risk management systems in place is best practice regardless of the size of business and Optimum Safety can help you put these in place.
Using your risk assessment
After producing the risk assessments staff need to be made aware of them. Effective communication and keeping records of issuing the information is good practice. In addition, employees should be fully briefed on reporting procedures should they encounter a hazard, or anything else otherwise affecting health and safety at the workplace.
One of the benefits of being in a small business is that it can be much easier to communicate internally. Discuss any changes that could affect your employees with your employees. Communication on health and safety is a two way process within the business and management should encourage feedback from employees.
Making sure everyone’s on board is an effective way to ensure that the workspace is as safe as it can be.
Your obligations as an employer do not stop at the risk assessment stage, there are many other obligations as an employer you must adhere to e.g. ensuring your employees are trained and competent in the role they are undertaking.
As an employer, you will likely be very familiar with the risks associated with your business. However, having the time to implement and develop your knowledge of health and safety to ensure you are competent can be a particular strain when it comes to growing businesses.
Consider the use of an external health and safety consultancy (like ours) to make the process as simple as possible. We have packages tailored to SMEs.
For a no-obligation chat, please get in touch with us and see if we can help you be more aware of your obligations to protect both you and your business.