Is your business taking health and safety seriously? If not, the beginning of 2017 is the perfect time to turn that around. Not only is there a very strong business case for taking health and safely seriously (as outlined here by RoSPA), there are other reasons too. These reasons include the fact that harm to employees and visitors can lead to reputational damage, lost contracts, downtime, compensation, legal fees, fines, prosecution and might even lead to the death or serious harm of the individual affected too.
That’s why it’s so important to ensure that your business is complying with basic workplace safety procedures. There are a number of things you’ll need to do (so take a look at HSE guidance for comprehensive advice), but here are the basics:
Write a basic health and safety policy
If your business employs five or more people, you must have a written health and safety policy. And, while you’re not legally obliged to do so, it’s a good idea to have a policy even if your business employs fewer than five workers. Your policy will tell your employees how their safety will be managed, and demonstrates your commitment to health and safety too. You can find out more information about health and safety policies here.
Carry out risk assessments
Another basic thing you need to do is carry out risk assessments. The purpose of this assessment is to see if you can spot any work activities that could pose a threat to an individual’s wellbeing, considering what might go wrong and choosing suitable control measures to prevent damage, injury or death occurring in the workplace. You’re obliged to to look at all work activities to that could cause harm in order to ensure you’re complying with the law, but it’s a good idea to go above and beyond this wherever possible.
Account for the needs of foreign workers or those who do not understand English well
It’s possible that some of your employees won’t speak English as their first language, so it’s important you go the extra mile to ensure they understand how to keep themselves safe at work. Consider bringing in a translator for training days, use visual presentations, and make sure that safety signs and symbols are clearly understood.
Use permit to work software
However small or large your business is, making sure that it’s only the workers who are authorised to carry out specific tasks actually do so, is really challenging – when you’re understaffed, pushed for time or just need to get a job done, it can be all too easy for the wrong person to do a job… even with the best of intentions.
Consider using health and safety software so you know that it’s only the contractors (for example) with the appropriate training and qualifications who are performing certain tasks. You can create job-specific templates (such as working at height, working in confined spaces or handling hazardous materials) using the software to help you keep organised, and you can even track peoples’ training from induction right the way through to their most recent training courses.
Keep an accident book
The law requires that you keep a record of any accidents or injuries that happen in your workplace. You can order a HSE accident book online – and make sure you do, as it’s a basic requirement that you log accidents, ill health and near-misses.
Take out insurance
Finally, another basic requirement is that you take out employer’s liability insurance. By law, you must obtain and display an insurance certificate of your liability insurance if you have one or more employees, and you’ll need to give a copy of this certificate to government health and safety inspectors whenever they request it.