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How to ensure your small business complies with health and safety requirements

November 2nd, 2018
health and safety for businesses

Health and safety is one of those “to do” list items that never seems like a priority until an issue arises. It isn’t one of the most dynamic jobs that business owners are required to do and it doesn’t generate any revenue, which means that it can often be left until last. However, there can be severe consequences for not paying attention to health and safety issues, from claims against the business to fines, which average £30,000. So, how do you ensure that your small business is prepared?

Who does health and safety law apply to?

Unless you are self-employed and working from home, health and safety law will apply to your business, whatever the sector you operate in or the size of your enterprise. There are two important pieces of legislation to consider – the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The underlying purpose of this legislation is to get businesses to assess their risks and to manage those that they have created.

Ensuring compliance – the basics

Risk assessment

It’s important for every business to get used to doing risk assessments. This is the process of identifying the hazards in the business and who is affected by them. A process of evaluation is required to establish whether the risk is acceptable. If the risk can’t be removed then you may need to look into changes to make a process safer. If that isn’t possible then barriers or controls may need to be created. If none of that is an option then the last resort is to provide employees with protective equipment to counter the hazard. Risk assessment should be carried out early in the life of the business and on a regular basis after that.

Training staff

 Training staff on the risk managements within the business is crucial to ensure that procedures put in place to protect against, or minimize, the risks identified are adhered to. It may be that a risk assessment has identified that training for staff could make the business safer. This could be anything, from putting up informative posters to having regular training sessions.

 Getting help

 Claiming ignorance or a lack of awareness of risks to health and safety is not a defence so it’s up to each individual business to get help where necessary – the Occupational Safety & Health Consultants Register can be a useful place to find some support.

 Employing four people or less

If your business has fewer than five people then there is no obligation to write down a safety policy or make a note of your safety arrangements. However, it’s always a good idea to create a written safety strategy that provides evidence of emergency arrangements, responsibilities of key people, training provided and the biggest risks.

 Employing more than five people

 Larger businesses do need to have a written safety policy, which includes the aims and intent of the business when it comes to risk, who is responsible for what and how risks are being managed.

Although small businesses are not held to the same standards as larger organisations it’s still crucial to be aware of the health and safety requirements that apply to you. The issues that can result from a lack of risk assessment or preparedness can be devastating.

Find out more about insurance for your business in case of a disaster by getting in touch with Morgan Richardson today on 0800 731 294 today. Alternatively you can request a quote.

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