Your Guide To A Small Business’ Health And Safety Check
Starting a business is a rewarding venture, as it is an opportunity to exercise your independence and unleash your passion for innovation and creativity.
There are also practicalities that have to be addressed, however, and whilst they may not be particularly exciting it is essential that you prioritise these as well. One such practicality is the health and safety check.
Although it can seem like a tedious and lengthy task, it is actually quite straightforward as long as you follow the simple steps outlined in this comprehensive guide. The consequences for not adhering to health and safety guideline can be devastating, and could potentially jeopardize the survival of your business.
Essentially, ensuring that you have covered everything when it comes to health and safety is one of the most effective ways to protect your small business over the long term.
What’s more, knowing that every eventuality has been accounted for will give you the peace of mind you need to focus on your business and ensure that it continues to flourish and thrive. Plan, Do, Check and Act is a model for implementing health and safety that has been used successfully in many workplace environments, and we will be exploring this model in further detail here.
First and foremost, you should create a detailed and thorough plan describing how you intend to approach health and safety within your business. This is critical, because every business is different when it comes to the specific risks that are present within your premises or the responsibilities that your employees are expected to fulfil. T
his plan will formulate the health and safety policy that you and your employees will have to abide by, and it should clearly establish everyone’s roles and duties in order to protect themselves as well as those around them.
You should also write down how you expect to deliver and improve health and safety, for example what checks you will introduce to determine whether standards are being fulfilled and what can be done to ensure that everyone is as healthy and as safe as possible. Of course, it will also be necessary to assess the performance of these measures.
You could do this by recording and comparing accident and illness statistics over a period of time, as well as investigating more subtle indicators such as asking your employees about their health and safety concerns and whether or not they feel they have been resolved. Once outlined, you can implement your plan by following these stages:
Firstly, you will have to identity the risks that are present within your business premises and practices. For this, you may want to walk around the premises for a physical examination as well as hold meetings with your employees so that they can provide their feedback. For each risk that has been identified, you should determine who it could harm, how this will harm, and what steps you will take to address that risk.
It is essential that you communicate with your employees throughout this entire process. For example, when the risks have been identified you should inform your employees of these risks and what they can do to minimise them or avoid them completely.
It is not just about having a written plan in place as a formality, but creating and encouraging a corporate culture that has a positive and proactive approach to health and safety, not only for oneself but for others as well.
Depending on the specific purpose of your business, it may be necessary to provide your employees with training and learning opportunities so that they can learn as much as possible about health and safety.
At the very least, employees should have access to health and safety resources that they can refer to whenever required. Of course, this training and learning should also be supplemented with preventative and protective practices, a well-maintained building, the right equipment and adequate supervision.
Another way you can be proactive, when it comes to health and safety for your business, is to make sure you have employers liability insurance in place. This means, when something does go wrong you and your staff will be supported financially.
Upon implementing these practices, it is critical that you check them on a regular basis. This is where supervision comes in – whether it is ensuring that equipment is working properly or that your employees are following health and safety protocols.
In the event that something has been overlooked or neglected, you can address it as quickly as possible before it injures someone or causes any sickness.
Even if nothing appears to be amiss, you should always conduct checks frequently. These checks will give you an easily quantifiable and tangible way to see how effective your policy is, especially when it comes to controlling the risks that were identified and whether or not you have achieved the objectives that you had originally noted in your policy. If necessary, amendments can be made.
Of course, there may be some instances where an incident is unavoidable, for example a risk that was never anticipated, a machinery breakdown or a breach of the health and safety protocols.
In this case, you should thoroughly investigate these incidents, and record everything such as where it happened, who was there at the time, the extent of the harm and the efficiency of the response.
A health and safety policy isn’t a document that should be drafted and then set aside. It has to be continually referred to and improved upon when there is a development within your business. Whenever there is a change, such as a concern brought up by an employee, a new piece of equipment or an illness or injury, you should take the appropriate action.
Over time, you can create a health and safety policy that has been tailored to your business, informed by real-life experiences and situations. HSE, the national regulator for health and safety in the workplace within the United Kingdom, has numerous resources on its website.
Small Business Insurance
It is important to keep in mind that the Plan, Do, Check and Act model shouldn’t be approached as an isolated policy in your business.
Instead, it should be integrated within every aspect of your business whether it is management or office design or hiring and training your employees. Something else that you should definitely integrate within your business is public liability insurance cover.
Your insurance will protect you from any adverse or unexpected circumstances, like a legal claim, damage to your property or injury and illness. Although health and safety checks should dramatically reduce the instances of anyone becoming injured or sick whilst working for you, it is always a good idea to be prepared.
With insurance, the small business that you have worked so hard for is cushioned by a layer of protection, alongside your health and safety policy.