Running a business with multiple employees means that you are legally responsible for the safety and health of your staff, visitors, everyone nearby, as well as those who may be affected by your services or products. As time passes by, you learn that there are things you cannot control, just as to expect the unexpected. No matter how true this statement seems, there are steps you can and must undertake in order to prevent or minimize these risks. The requirements are very straightforward, and complying with the law procedures usually means simply applying common sense.
Registering With HSE
Registering premises with HSE (Health & Safety Executive) or local authority is usually not required from most new employers. On the other hand, if your business operates in a hazardous industry, or works with dangerous substances, you should acquire a licence in order to operate or register with your local authority or Health & Safety Executive. You can check legal obligations and find a galore of advice and information online, at the HSE website.
Assessments Regarding Health and Safety
First of all, minimum health and safety standards must be met, whatever the nature of your business premises is. Carry out a risk assessment by finding and analyzing activities, places and substances which can lead to sickness or injury. For example, spillages, loose floor tiles, and cables can cause people to fall, trip or slip. Exposure to fire risks, moving vehicles, excessive noise and hazardous substances should also be assessed.
Choosing the most effective health and security measures depends on the severity of threats you business faces. Consider all the possible risks, record all the findings, and then decide what is the best thing to do. Risk assessments should be reviewed and reconsidered at least every six months or whenever a significant business change occurs. You must have your risk assessments in a written form if you employ five or more people.
Employees’ Health and Safety Rights
Before you start employing your staff members, what you must do is find your obligations and safeguard the employees’ welfare. Employees should be provided with: sufficient space, good lighting and ventilation; fresh drinking water; hand basins, clean toilets, soap and hand drying means (mixed-gender toilets are allowed only if they are lockable from the inside). Waste should be removed on a regular basis so the working areas could be kept clean. People should be able to walk safely around your premises, so you must make sure that any kind of obstacle is removed in order to prevent people from tripping or falling. There should be an evacuation diagram near every entrance/exit, hallway, and floor of your business facility.
If employees are largely stationary while performing their work, the temperature should be kept around 16ºC, and if their job required them to walk around, maintain the temperature around 13ºC.
Provide a rest area for the employees and a changing area for those who are required to wear staff uniforms or special clothing. As for the smokers, make your employees aware of your company’s smoking policy and provide a smoking area away from windows and doors, so the non-smokers are not affected by smoke.
Planning and Taking Responsibility
You should plan the procedures for managing serious incidents, have an accident book as well as a system for reporting serious injuries, incidents, and diseases to authorities. Your policy should account for the safety, health and welfare of your staff members, customers, pregnant women, children, and suppliers with disabilities. Each employee should be provided with health and safety training in order to know all the possible risks they face, as well as their responsibilities regarding health and safety. One or more person should be put responsible for health and safety within your business.
Business and the Environment
For any environmental damaged caused, your business can be held responsible. First of all, all waste must be properly treated, suitably contained and safely stored. Be sure that whoever carries out waste disposal does the job properly and is legally permitted to perform the work. Electrical and electronic goods waste usually has to be recycled by the makers, sellers, and distributors of electronic and electrical equipment.
Regarding those who live or work near your business, you must ensure not to cause a nuisance through gases, smoke, fumes, smells, noise, accumulations of rubbish or light pollution that could annoy or harm their health. Study all the procedures about business health and safety, carry out required assessments, have them in written form, and educate your employees about all the risks they face, as well as the procedures they need to undertake in case of hazardous situations.