Health and Safety for Beginners
As an employer or self-employed person, you are responsible for Health and Safety in your business. Health and Safety law is there to protect you, your employees and the public – it doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or take up a too much of your time.
The specific approach you take towards health and safety will vary depending on the size of your business, the number of employees, contact with the public and the risk involved in the job itself.
To get you started Avensure have put together some guidance on the 5 most frequently queried topics:
2. Risk Assessment
5. First Aid
- If you have 5 or more employees you must have a written policy in place, it should explain how you manage health and safety in your business and will let your staff and others know about your commitment to health and safety.
- You must display the up to date H&S Law Poster (or alternatively provide employees with the leaflet/pocket version)
- In most cases you must have liability insurance (If you have no employees, or are a family business and all employees are closely related to you, you may not need it).
- Decide who will help you with your duties – whoever you assign to oversee your Health and Safety arrangements must be competent, with the necessary skills & knowledge.
What is a Risk Assessment and why do I need one? You need to ensure that you are doing everything reasonably practicable to protect the health and safety of your employees or anyone else that may be affected by your activities (e.g. customers, contractors). To do this you need to think about what, in your business, might cause harm to people and decide whether you are taking reasonable steps to prevent that harm. This is known as a risk assessment. You are probably already taking steps to protect your employees, but your risk assessment will tell you whether you have covered all you need to.
How? A good starting point is to walk round your workplace looking out for things that might cause harm, think about the chance of an incident occurring – is it likely or unlikely? Could someone be seriously hurt or would the outcome be minor? Consider how it would happen and if some are more at risk than others. Consult with your employees – do they have concerns? Have there been previous incidents?
If you have 5 or more employees then your risk assessments must be recorded.
You should review your risk assessments annually, after an accident or if there are any significant changes in the workplace.
Avensure can provide a template risk assessment form and guide to risk assessment – just contact us.
Training and Consultation
Do I need to talk to my employees about health and safety? Yes, you need to consult with your employees about your health and safety arrangements and how it affects them.
Should they have an input? Yes! Often, they are the best people to identify problems. Involving staff in decisions will show you’re taking health and safety seriously, encouraging them to play an active role in following and maintaining health and safety arrangements. You should always encourage them to raise any concerns.
Should I provide training? Clear instruction and accessible information should always be provided. For small, low risk businesses formal ‘classroom’ training or external training is not always needed – It could involve inductions, tool box talks and online training for example. For larger, higher risk workplaces, specific technical training should also be provided. Don’t forget Health and Safety training should take place during working hours and it must not be paid for by employees.
What should I include? This could vary enormously, training needs will become apparent from the Risk Assessment. The basics should include hazards/risks they may face and the measures in place to deal with them, emergency procedures, and first aid.
What do I need to provide? At the very least you should provide the following:
- Hand basins.
- Paper towels or a hand dryer.
- Drinking water.
- A place to store clothing (somewhere to change if specific clothing is needed for work).
- Somewhere to rest and eat.
- Good ventilation- either from windows or a ventilation system.
- A reasonable working temperature.
- Adequate lighting.
- Suitable workstations, seating and room to carry out duties.
- Clean environment with appropriate waste disposal.
What do I need to do? The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require you to provide adequate and appropriate first-aid equipment, facilities and people so your employees can be given immediate help if they are injured or taken ill at work. What is ‘adequate and appropriate’ will depend on the circumstances in your workplace and you should assess what your first-aid needs are, this is called a first aid needs assessment.
The minimum first-aid provision on any work site is:
- A suitably stocked first-aid kit
- An appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements
- Information for employees about first-aid arrangements
Who should take charge? Depending on the size and nature of your business you may need one or more of your staff to undergo practical first aid training. All businesses, no matter how small should always have an appointed person to call the emergency services and manage the first aid arrangements.
What else do I need to know?
- You should ensure that accidents and incidents are recorded in your accident book and that the personal data in them is stored securely.
- The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 state that certain workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences must be reported to the HSE.
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