5 Top Tips in Business – Health & Safety

When you are starting a new business, there is so much to do and so much to learn and, sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. We’ve asked our expert team to give you their top five tips for new businesses. Some tips are from their own experience as business owners and some are from their own area of expertise. 

This week, it’s Steve Taylor’s turn, to give you his top five tips for Health & Safety. 

Tip 1 – Health & Safety doesn’t cost a fortune

The “cost” of H&S should be viewed as an investment, not a cost. A H&S failing resulting in an accident will soon show you the real cost. I posted a blog on my website explaining the true cost of an accident.

There are two ways to view H&S:
A.    To comply with the law, there can be severe penalties if you don’t!
B.    To keep staff safe, moral duty of care – if staff are injured through work it will affect production, cost for temporary staff, bad publicity, affect moral with other staff and If there is a prosecution the details will be on public record for five years!

Always treat H&S as an integral part of your work from the outset, you will find the risk of any accidents occurring will be drastically reduced along with any potential prosecutions. This will then become a good H&S culture within your workforce. Don’t treat H&S as a separate task, it is not. If you do not have the knowledge and experience with H&S ask for help it is far less expensive in than the alternative.

Tip 2 – Don’t worry about trying to afford all actions at once, following an inspection

Following the H&S inspection we would discuss the report prioritising the order of any work that is required. The purpose of an H&S inspection is to take a snapshot of your business and to point out any potential areas where incidents may occur or where you are at risk of prosecution. Once you have this information it may only require a few changes to resolve the issues. If not, usually you word prioritise and plan the work according to severity and your budget. If the worst does happen at least your defence team would evidence to defend you in court.

Tip 3 – Make sure you have a Competent Person

It is a legal requirement for every business to have a named Competent Person for their H&S. Depending on the business it can be done inhouse if you or a member of staff have the knowledge, experience to be competent, or you could employ your own H&S person. Several businesses only require help with H&S occasionally or just prefer to enlist the help of a H&S professional. Either way, the practical side of complying with the law and having a Competent Person for H&S is the following:

A.    You are complying with the law
B.     If you are bidding for certain contracts it may be one of their requirement (and they do check from time to time I had an organisation recently email me to confirm this for one of my clients)
C.    It may also reduce your business insurance premiums
D.     If you do have an accident or emergency you have a professional you know to turn to for help and support.

Tip 4 – Using Contractors doesn’t stop you being liable for any Health & Safety Failings

You have a duty of care and can still be prosecuted along with the contractor.
I have seen so many business owners over the years where they have outsourced work to contractors, and they believe the contractor is then liable for H&S not them.
There is no way of transferring YOUR H&S liability, if you instruct a contractor, you are BOTH potentially liable for any H&S breaches. There has been many prosecutions involving both the contractor and the business owner engaging them (one well known supermarket chain were fined £2.5m as well as the contractor!).

Tip 5 – EVERYONE needs to do Risk Assessments!

Every business is legally required to carry out a risk assessment for their business. A lot of self-employed believe, after David Cameron announced he was taking them out of the H&S law, that it no longer applied to them -Wrong! If you are self-employed and what you do could affect others, then the H&S law applies to you.
People become confused with under 5 employees – under this, if you have less than five employees you are not required to have written risk assessments, but you must still carry them out.

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