Health and safety regulations
Jun 26 2007 By Evening Gazette
FROM your first day in business you need to comply with health and safety regulations.
No matter what size your business is, the law requires you to look after the health and safety of your employees, yourself and anyone associated with your business, such as visitors or passers-by.
Your obligations become more complex as you start to employ more people, so familiarise yourself with the regulations as early as possible.
Various pieces of legislation also concern the self-employed, young people doing work experience, mobile workers, home workers and agency workers.
This guide explains the main steps you must take to ensure your business complies with health and safety regulations.
What should you do to comply with health and safety legislation?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends ten key things that new businesses should do to comply with health and safety legislation:
1. Carry out a risk assessment. Decide what could cause harm to employees or visitors and how to take precautions to minimise the risks.
2. Compile a health and safety policy. Decide how you intend to manage health and safety. If you have more than five employees, your policy must be written down.
3. Obtain employers' liability insurance. This is mandatory if you employ any staff, and the certificate must be displayed in your workplace.
4. Provide health and safety training to staff. This must be free and provide enough information to let them know what hazards and risks they may come across and how to deal with them.
5. Obtain competent advice from a business adviser or solicitor. This will enable you to meet your duties under health and safety law.
6. Provide for basic health, safety and welfare needs. This includes providing toilets, washing facilities and drinking water for all employees.
7. Consult your employees on health and safety matters.
8. Display the health and safety law poster. This contains basic information on health and safety legislation and contact numbers.
9. Report relevant workplace accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences to either the HSE or your local authority.
10. Register with the HSE or your local authority. This will depend on the kind of business you operate but generally factory-based businesses must register with the HSE while offices and shops must register with the local authority.
Carrying out a risk assessment.
" Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, all employers and the self-employed are required to carry out a risk assessment. This will involve looking at whether employees are exposed to risks either because of the work they are doing or the condition of your premises, plant, equipment or vehicles.
" When conducting a risk assessment it is important to remember that hazards may not all be physical. Stress at work is increasingly common and can be a result of bad working practices. Check that staff are not overworked, that they have control over what they are doing, and that working relationships are effective.
" Following your risk assessment, you may need to make repairs or provide protective clothing or equipment to reduce the risks. You can do this yourself or you can delegate the tasks to a competent person. Make a record of the measures you have introduced because this will be useful in the event of a health and safety inspection. Compiling a health and safety policy
" If your business employs five or more people, you are required by law to have a written health and safety policy.
" Even if you don't employ five or more staff, you should still develop a written policy, as it will help you keep within the law.
" The law requires you to put your written policy in a place where all employees can view it, so you should display it somewhereprominent such as the staff handbook. Providing health and safety training to employees
" You have an obligation to provide training for new employees as part of the induction process.
" This needs to cover safety systems used in the workplace, fire safety and evacuation procedures, the health and safety policy, and the identity of employees responsible for first aid, fire safety and the reporting of accidents.
" You should also provide refresher training to those workers who need it, especially when there are changes to legislation or procedures.
Special attention should be given to any employees aged under 18. Providing for basic health, safety and welfare needs You must provide a safe and healthy environment for all your employees, including people with disabilities. You also need to take account of their welfare needs.
You will need to consider:
" Washing facilities.
" Drinking water.
This is not an exhaustive list. One of the most common causes of injuries in the workplace is slipping or tripping. You must make sure that floors are not slippery - or that warning signs are provided if they are - and that the workplace is well lit and clear of hazards such as trailing cables.
" Under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977, recognised trade unions have the right to consult with employers about workplace safety.
" If requested, you must set up a safety committee to supervise the implementation of health and safety policy. If there is not a recognised trade union, the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations
" These require you to consult your employees, either directly or via elected safety representatives, regarding health and safety issues.
" To comply with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, you need to establish an internal system for reporting and recording accidents.
" This could be in the form of an accident book. You should keep records of any relevant incidents for three years.
Sharing premises with other businesses
" If your workplace is shared with other businesses, they should be informed of any risks you find in communal areas and the action taken to address them.
" You also need to ensure that you co-operate when drawing up emergency procedures, especially where shared escape routes and fire alarm ystems are involved.
Business Link has access to a wide range of expertise and can work with you to build an understanding of your business’s health and safety requirements, source the most relevant assistance and, if appropriate, help with the identification of funding, to ensure you achieve your business goals.
Visit the Business Link North website at www.businesslinknortheast.co.uk or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 600 9 006 to see how you can get the most from your business
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