In general, health and safety laws apply to all businesses. As an employer you are responsible for health and safety in your business. Health and safety laws are there to protect you, your employees and the public from workplace dangers.
The main law governing health and safety in businesses is the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 1974. This Act places a legal duty on employers to ensure, the health, safety, and welfare of employees. Under the Act you have an obligation to ensure any potential risk of work-related violence is eliminated or controlled. If you have five or more employees you must have a written health and safety policy statement, setting out how you manage health and safety in your organisation.
There are other regulations which put responsibility on employers including:
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999
- The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995
- Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977
Appointing a competent person
As an employer, you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety. If you run a low-risk business, health and safety is something you can manage without needing to buy in expert help. Here you could appoint yourself as a competent person or one or more of your workers. However, if you are not confident of your ability to manage all health and safety in-house, or if you are a higher-risk business, you may need some external help or advice.
Health and safety policy
Describing how you will manage health and safety in your business will let your staff and others know about your commitment to health and safety. This will be your health and safety policy. It should clearly say who does what, when and how. A policy will only be effective if you and your staff follow it and review it regularly.
Controlling the risks in your business
As part of managing the health and safety of your business, you must control the risks in your workplace. 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.
You have to consult all your employees on health and safety. This does not need to be complicated. You can do this by listening and talking to them about:
- health and safety and the work they do;
- how risks are controlled;
- the best ways of providing information and training.
Consultation is a two-way process, allowing staff to raise concerns and influence decisions on the management of health and safety. Your employees are often the best people to understand risks in the workplace and involving them in making decisions shows them that you take their health and safety seriously.
Need help with Health and Safety Management?
If you’re dedicated to improving Health and Safety in your business but feel you need support along the way then ISA Business Development & Support Services can help. They can help with the following elements
- Introduction of Management Systems HSG-65 or BS OHSAS 18001
- Maintenance of your existing H&S system
- Training (including Risk Assessment, Manual Handling, DSE, Fire Safety, COSHH, Asbestos Awareness, Spill Control, Hot Work,)
- Safety Audits and Inspection
For more information visit their website.