Fire. Flooding, Accidents at work. These are the kind of things that can keep you awake at night when you’re setting up a company. None of us wants to think of the worst-case scenario, but the fact is keeping you and any staff safe at work is a primary obligation for a small business owner. Good practice in matters of health and safety makes excellent business sense – it can protect you and your workers, maintain your reputation and reduce your insurance premiums and legal costs. There’s a lot to consider, so here’s how to make health and safety simple:
Author Your Policy
The first step is to write a formal health and safety policy. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but it does need to state who does what, when and how. If you have fewer than five employees, it doesn’t need to be written by law – but it might be a good idea to start as you mean to go on. This policy must regularly be reviewed by you and your staff to make sure it’s up to date.
Manage the risks in your business
Start by conducting a thorough risk assessment – there are templates available online or you can hire an expert. This is your chance to identify sensible measures to prevent harm to your business and staff. What those are will depend on the nature of your operations – for example, if you run a graphic design agency its likely to be low-risk, whereas businesses with warehousing facilities may need to source machines for fire installation systems as part of their process. Remember to consider risks to different types of employees – for example, expectant mothers or those with disabilities. Also, consider anyone who is not a direct employee, but spends time in the business regularly, such as contractors, visitors or maintenance workers. If you share a workspace with another company, consider how you affect each other and work together to make sure controls are in place.
Consult Your Employees
If you work with others, make sure they are consulted as part of the process – they may provide invaluable feedback on specific working conditions they face. Make sure they are equipped with the right training – depending on the level of risk that could be as simple as an online document or require a training course. Keep a record of the training as part of the employee file. Make sure you have the right equipment in place for them and think about ventilation, lighting, room temperature and cleanliness, as well as setting up a first-aid station and an accident log.
Make Sure You’re Insured
Employer’s liability insurance is an absolute essential to avoid costly litigation if anything goes wrong, Approach a specialist broker or trade association to get the best deal. Often, it can be bought as part of a package that covers a range of different business needs.
With these simple steps, you can cover the welfare of your business and know that you are all prepared for anything – and with that out of the way, focusing on the day-to-day running becomes much easier.