Health and Safety: A Guide for Small Business Owners
Even when running a small business, you must take health and safety seriously. But how should you implement your H&S procedures? Fortunately, it’s not complicated to ensure your business complies with the law. Here’s a guide to some of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to health and safety for small businesses.
Appoint Someone to Manage Health & Safety
As the employer, it’s your duty to appoint one person who can help you to meet your duties surrounding health and safety. This someone should be competent, and have the right level of skills and experience to take on these responsibilities. If you run a low-risk business, you could even appoint yourself.
Create a Health & Safety Policy
Write down a policy that describes how you will manage H&S within your business, as well as show your commitment to it. In the policy, it’s vital to make it clear who’s responsible for what. However, although you’re not legally required to write this down if you employ fewer than five people, it’s still a good idea to do so.
Educate Your Employees
Educating your employees doesn’t have to take long or be particularly complicated. As an example, you could teach them about health and safety by simply talking to them about the issues in a meeting. However you do choose to go about it, make sure you discuss the risks and safety procedures so that they are aware of all the issues.
Provide Training for Your Employees
If your employees need specific health and safety training, make sure they get it! This could involve simply providing them with basic instructions, or you might need to provide them with training for carrying out specific tasks, such as those that involve working with heavy objects, potentially dangerous machinery, or hazardous materials.
You might need to book a training course for them or hire an external trainer, or you may be able to do it in-house.
Provide Safe Facilities, Equipment and Workwear
Making sure all your employees can do their jobs correctly and safely will involve providing them with everything they need to do so, and one of the most important things is protective workwear. For employees working with machinery, heat and chemicals, or at height, there is a range of safety clothing and equipment you might need to prepare them with.
It also involves providing them with safe and suitable desks and chairs, a clean workspace and lavatories (which includes making sure there is soap in the bathroom). You should also be providing good ventilation to prevent the spread of germs, making sure employees work in a healthy room temperature, and provide good lighting to prevent eye strain.
General Tips for a Safe Workplace
Carry out a risk assessment and work out where the dangers are in your workplace, then make sure you sort out anything that needs fixing. Some things to consider include:
- Use entrance mats to prevent slips and falls
- Put up wet floor signs when needed
- Hire a specialist cleaning service
- Inspect tools and equipment before using it
- Store chemicals safely and securely
- Keep floors and workspaces tidy
- Prevent items being left where people could trip
- Make sure cables are not loose
- Ensure employees have suitable breaks
Have a First-Aid Plan in Place
Accidents can happen anywhere, so make sure your workplace has a comprehensive first-aid kit available. You must also have at least one appointed person to deal with first-aid on-site. With that in mind, you could train up one or two employees.
Provide information to all your employees about first-aid arrangements and keep a record of injuries and diseases related to the workplace.
You must also display a health and safety law poster if you employ anyone, and this should be in a place where it is easy to read.
You can read more about first aid at work at the HSE website.
Keep Your Workplace Safe
Don’t put off dealing with your business’s health and safety arrangements. It’s vital to ensure your compliance, and it’s actually quite easy to make sure you are doing everything possible to keep your employees safe.
Follow these tips, and you’ll reduce the risk of accidents and illness that could keep your employees out of work for weeks or months.