It is your responsibility as a business owner to operate safely and look after both employees and customers. However, managing health and safety can be far from easy. If you’re setting up a business from scratch, the world of health and safety can be very daunting. There are so many rules and regulations to follow, and they change all the time. How do you know what your responsibilities are, how to meet them and where even to start?
First things first, you need a health and safety policy. This is a document that simply and clearly states how you will manage health and safety in your business. It outlines what measures you’ll take to reduce risk, as well as who takes responsibility for what. Follow these tips to set up your own policy:
- Seek expert advice. To help you make those crucial first steps, it’s a good idea to consult an expert in health and safety in the workplace. For example, members of the Federation of Small Businesses can access the very latest information and seek answers from FSB health and safety experts. It’s best to avoid researching the topic online unless you’re using a reputable source, as information can be conflicting, misleading and potentially out of date. This could lead you astray or leave you feeling even more confused than when you started!
- Identify risks. A good way to get a comprehensive view of the risks within your workplace and the steps you need to take to reduce them is to get a full health and safety audit done. You can call in a professional to do this or attempt it yourself, although the former option ensures that no important aspects are missed. An audit looks at every aspect of your business from staff safety to fire risk, and recommends improvements and measures to eliminate this risk.
- Complete a template. The government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has lots of tools to help businesses meet their responsibilities with regards to health and safety in the workplace. One of these is a template you can download and complete for free – this can form the basis of your health and safety policy.
Once you have your health and safety policy written, you’ll need to make sure that you have made the required improvements to how your business operates. For example, your staff may need training in working safely, first aid or fire safety, accidents will need recording and you may need to install new safety equipment and signage.
The importance of regular reviews
Unfortunately, your responsibilities as a business owner aren’t over once you have your new health and safety policy in place. Risks in the workplace change all the time. Even the introduction of a new product line, a renovation to the building or even a new employee can bring new risks and render your H&S policy out of date. You must renew it regularly to see if anything has changed.