Important Health and Safety Guidelines for Small Business Owners
If you’re running a small business, then you owe a legal duty of care to your staff. This means that you must take steps where reasonably possible to ensure their safety. Fail in this duty, and you could be taken to court. Not only that, but your productivity will suffer hugely when your staff suffer injuries and are forced out of action.
Who are you responsible for?
When you’re running a business, you’re responsible for everyone in it. This means all the staff, and the customers, too. You could even be held to account for ordinary members of the public who find their way onto the premises – even if they’re not buying anything, and even if you didn’t invite them. In fact, they don’t even need to be on the premises – passers-by can suffer accidents and injuries because of your negligence.
To stay on the right side of the law, you’ll need to devise a policy that deals with health and safety concerns. You’ll also need to perform regular risk assessments which seek to determine exactly who is responsible for what, and where the dangers lie.
A risk assessment should be performed at regular intervals, as well as in the aftermath of an accident. The results should be recorded so that the effectiveness of the assessment can be judged later on. If the findings of the risk assessment are not acted on, then it won’t actually do any good – which is a good reason that the recommendations be written down.
Conditions for Employees
Employees must be able to work in a safe environment. In many cases, this means providing them with the right personal protective equipment, and instilling a culture that requires the use of that equipment (as well as emphasising health and safety more broadly). Ideally, safety concerns shouldn’t be seen as an imposition, but an opportunity.
Personal protective equipment needs to be checked regularly and maintained in such a way that ensures its effectiveness over the long term. Employees should be provided with the training they need to use their equipment effectively.
Some individuals are legally entitled to extra protections. These include children, pregnant women, and disabled people whose needs must be accounted for, especially in emergency situations. If there’s a fire, there should be an exit available to wheelchair users, for example.
Certain businesses might be faced with particular safety challenges. For example, your business might handle potentially dangerous substances and equipment. This being the case, you’ll need to take special measures to limit the danger. In most cases, this simply means following the findings of your risk assessments and implementing any proposed solutions.