As a small or new business you may think health and safety and the laws surrounding it won’t apply to your company as much as they do to larger ones.
According to the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), even if you’re self-employed and work on your own it is a legal requirement to make an assessment of potential risks in the workplace.
Therefore even if your business only employs five workers, taking health and safety seriously is important. As well as staying on the right side of the law it will keep you and the company in a good position in the event of an accident.
If more than five people work for your business then a health and safety plan has to be written down. Creating an effective plan involves assessing every hazard that exists in the workplace, recording it and its hazard level before coming up with an appropriate response.
Depending on the industry your company is based in, its headquarters and the size of them, this will have a big impact on how many hazards exist. For example, companies using heavy machinery will discover far more potential risks than marketing businesses working in an office.
Still, every risk from tripping over a cable to being hit by a forklift truck must be recorded.
After identifying potential risks, measures need to be put in place to minimise the chance of an accident occurring. Create an accident log book to record any incidents to keep your company safe and ensure every employee reads and understands a copy of the health and safety plan too.
Don’t waste too much time and effort on minimal or unlikely risks, such as lightning hitting a window. Instead make necessary adjustments such as taping down all loose cables in offices, not blocking fire exits etc.
In a worst case scenario an employee can have an accident, without proper health and safety training and successfully claim against the company. For small businesses this can bankrupt or at least significantly damage their finances.
It is important employer liability insurance is taken out but creating and implementing an effective health and safety policy should avoid landing in such a situation anyway.
Many insurers still expect companies to take reasonable steps to prevent accidents and will refuse to pay a claim if these can’t be proven. Health and safety is vital to keep all businesses, little or large, and their employees safe.