Is your business complying with health & safety regulations?

Health and safety regulations protect the wellbeing of employees and employers alike. If you’re an employer and not complying with this important legislation, you’re breaking the law and could face stringent fines or even prison.

Protecting your employees

Danger noticeGood employers want to protect their employees. If you run a business you must carry out regular risk assessments in order to ‘decide what could harm employees in their jobs and the precautions to stop it.’

Different types of businesses carry different types of risk. Clearly, there is far more risk in manufacturing and construction than there is in the professional services, but nonetheless every type of business with five or more employees must have a written Health and Safety Policy and associated Risk Assessments.

Remember too that considerations might vary for different people. For example, some employees might be particularly sensitive to allergens. If your business involves using substances that might be hazardous to health, you need to ensure you meet all relevant COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations.  Consider what protective clothing  is appropriate and where there is any chance of sensitivity or handling toxic substances, ensure you have high quality disposable gloves such as nitrile gloves from Brosch Direct readily available.

Monitoring a healthy working environment

Apart from the more acute aspects of health and safety, there are some basic provisions and considerations every employer should follow:

  • Clean and hygenic toilets and hand basins, with soap and towels or a hand-dryer;
  • Fresh drinking water;
  • Somewhere to rest, eat meals and store clothing / personal items;
  • An efficient ventilation system to ensure a supply of clean air;
  • Good lighting for all employees;
  • A well stocked first aid box and a designated first aid officer;
  • Always keep floors and corridors free from obstruction;
  • Make sure your employers’ liability insurance is up to date and on public display;
  • Ensure employees have appropriate training and fully understand health and safety procedures;
  • Maintain a reasonable working temperature

Controlling risk

Different industries carry different risks and dangers. As an employer it’s important that you visit the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website to make sure that you are aware for the specific risks that apply to your industry. A cleaning company will expose its employees to different risks than those of a catering company. If you run a cleaning company then you’ll also have to talk to your clients to ensure that their health and safety regulations are followed and it’s safe for your employees to work in their premises.

If any hazards are noted in your company or your client’s then a list should be drawn up in order to assess how to combat these issues and who has the responsibility for this risk management. Businesses with less than five employees don’t have to have a written risk assessment or health and safety policy in place – but you should nonetheless still consider all aspects of health and safety. Best practice is to start preparing documentation as soon as you start taking on employees.

Consulting with employees

If you feel that in order to comply with Health and Safety regulations you don’t need outside help, then appoint a member of staff as the designated health and safety officer for your company. The Government’s own guidance is relatively straightforward and suggests that all employees are consulted about potential workplace hazards. They might have noticed a problem that you hadn’t realised existed. If your company has visitors and outside contractors you’ll have to take their needs into account too.

Training is vital

It’s important that all your employees are aware of your company’s health and safety procedures and regular training sessions will ensure that everyone is aware of your company policy. You must ensure that all workers are aware of emergency procedures and that fire exists are well signposted and have easy access at all times. Training records will help you keep up to date and remember that your risk assessment forms should also be regularly updated.

Most health and safety measures are a matter of common sense and if you follow these procedures you’ll be protecting your staff as well as your company.

Article by Patrick Vernon on behalf of Bosch Direct