Health and safety can be one of the most daunting aspects of starting up a new business. After all, the stakes are high. Failures can result in potentially serious accidents, and then there are the legal pitfalls to consider. However, as long as you’re methodical in your approach to managing safety risks, you should find the process to be straightforward. Meanwhile, there is plenty of information and assistance on offer if you need it.
This brief guide covers the main safety issues you need to consider when establishing a company.
Appointing a competent person
As an employer, you have a duty to appoint a competent individual to help you meet your health and safety obligations. This person must have the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to manage dangers effectively. If your company is low-risk, you should be able to rely on either yourself or one of your members of staff to perform this role.
However, if your business is higher risk, you might require third-party, expert assistance.
Health and safety policies
All companies with five or more employees must have a written health and safety policy. This document, which is intended for workers and other parties, describes how health and safety will be managed. It details the people responsible for controlling risk and states how and when they will achieve this.
Bear in mind that this policy doesn’t have to be complicated or take a long time to produce. For guidance, you can visit the website of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It provides document templates, as well as examples highlighting what you should include.
Effective training is a must too. It’s vital that all your personnel know how to avoid risks, and you’ll need to decide how much training your staff members require in order to achieve this.The training you provide ought to be commensurate with the level of risk your workers face. For low-risk firms, the provision of simple instructions and information in-house may suffice. However, if your firm is higher risk, you might need to turn to external training providers. For example, companies like SHEilds offer a range of health and safety courses that are accredited by official bodies such as the National Examination Board of Occupational Safety & Health and the Institute of Occupational Safety & Health.
Always remember that any contractors or self-employed individuals who may be working for you must have undergone the necessary training too. In addition, you must make sure you keep thorough training records.
You will also need to conduct risk assessments and, if you employ five or more employees, these must be written down. The assessments should identify any dangers your workers may face and they should detail suitable measures for controlling these risks. For further information on how to complete these analyses, you can visit the HSE’s website, or you can turn to a third-party safety consultant for assistance.
Bear in mind that you will need to review your risk assessments on a regular basis. For example, if you change your equipment or working practices, these documents will need to be revisited and updated.
It’s not always possible to predict if and when medical emergencies will arise, so it’s vital that you have suitable first aid provisions in place. Your arrangements should be based on the particular circumstances within your workplace. However, as a minimum, you’ll need a suitably stocked first aid kit and an appointed person to take charge of this aspect of safety. In addition, you must ensure you provide your workers with all the relevant information concerning your arrangements.
If your employees suffer accidents and injuries while performing their roles, you can end up facing potentially substantial costs. With this in mind, you’ll need to ensure that your organisation has suitable insurance policies in place. For example, unless you have no employees or your workers are all closely related to you, you are legally required to have employers’ liability cover.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the health and safety considerations associated with setting up a new business, but it does cover many of the most significant issues. If you’re unsure about your responsibilities as an employer, you can turn to health and safety consultants and bodies like this HSE for all the information you need.