Getting health & safety right as a small organisation is never easy.
Between juggling finances, projects, managing your staff and all other hats you need to wear, many of us get overwhelmed. Then the dreaded health & safety requirements are thrown in for good measure! Not the most glamorous, health & safety demands are complex, yet it is essential you get it right. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) provides safety guidance, but what are the basic essentials you need to get right? These 10 steps explain how to keep the HSE inspectors at bay:
- Appoint a H&S competent person
You must nominate someone who’s responsible for health & safety. They must be competent and can be an in-house safety professional or outsourced to a consultancy. Remember, you are still accountable so check in with them to ensure they have the right resources to complete their duties. Safety still remains everyone’s responsibility.
- Display the HSE poster
Order the HSE poster and display somewhere easy to see. You will need to add the name and number of your H&S competent person. There is space to include another person’s details when they are away or sick, and we strongly suggest you complete this.
- Write down your H&S policy
*where you employ more than 5 persons
You must set your H&S goals and arrangements. It doesn’t have to be long, but it must show that your employees and others will be safe at work. Make sure you show it to everyone. This free HandsHQ H&S policy template is a good place to start.
- Make first aid available
Accidents happen and you must be prepared for them. Many businesses train staff as first aiders. Look at the HSE website to check recommended arrangements for your business. Have a look at first aid courses available here and remember to buy and check your first aid kits. You also need to think about cover when people are on sick or holiday.
- Record your risk assessment(s)
*where you employ more than 5 persons
You need to tell people what risks are at work and what you are doing about it to keep them safe. If something goes wrong, this is the first document the HSE wants to see when they come knocking. See how you can produce simple risk assessments here. It doesn’t have to be complicated - simply note what you see and what must be done to keep safe.
- Talk to your workforce
Your workforce must be able to discuss H&S concerns and propose improvements. With an open-door approach, you build trust in the workplace and will hear honest feedback. Host regular meetings to allow people to talk to you about safety. And make sure you provide updates to prove a ‘you said, we did’ approach.
- Have the right insurance
You need to have at least £5m employer’s liability if the worst happens. Shop around to get the best price for you here just as you would with house and car insurance. You may need to have extra cover depending on your type of business, so it’s best to speak to the experts. Don’t get enticed by gift cards or other freebies, you pay for it later down the line.
- Provide information and training
You must give the right information, instruction and training. Check that employees are aware of hazards and how to protect themselves. Safety alerts and toolbox talks (TBT) are good communication tools as well as training courses. To stay on top of it, look at a training register solution to remove the pain.
- Ensure access to welfare
You must have facilities available to keep staff healthy at work. This includes: toilets and wash basins; resting areas; changing rooms; places to eat and drinking water. If you control the workplace, you need to manage these facilities yourself, otherwise, speak to your landlord or building manager / management agent where you find a problem.
- Report incidents
Your staff must be able to report incidents, no matter how small. By law, you must also report RIDDOR events; however, your H&S competent person will advise you on this. Ensure events are recorded and investigated to protect the business and stop them happening again.
Unlike a nice holiday, this list isn’t all-inclusive, but it is a start to help protect your people and the business.
The question isn’t how can you get away with the minimum health & safety requirements, but rather, what else can you do to protect your staff and stay ahead of the curve.
Good health & safety management prevents further costs in the future and removes the worry of having accidents and getting fined or even worse. Those with a good safety track record are also more likely to be chosen for more work with new clients.
We hope this list helps clarify the world of health & safety for you. If you still need a helping hand with creating a risk assessment, or managing staff training, speak to us at HandsHQ.