Step-by-step: Implementing Health and Safety Measures for Your Business
Your business, whether you are self employed or are a large corporation has legal as well as moral responsibilities to protect the health and safety of employees and others that are affected by what your business does including customers, suppliers and visitors. Many business owners make the mistake of either ignoring this area or doing the barest minimum wrongly believing that accidents only happen in exceptional circumstances. However, the statistics prove otherwise. In the United Kingdom, about 200 people die in the workplace and 2 million people fall ill due to their work or their conditions are exacerbated by being at work.
Implementing and maintaining robust health and safety measures is not only good for your business operations but helps protect against costly and time-consuming employee litigation. Having effective plans in place, in the long run, pays for itself. One of the things that puts business owners off is the wrong belief that dealing with health and safety is expensive and complicated. But this is not the case. A little common sense and discipline especially in the area of risk assessment goes a long way in business.
What is a risk assessment? Put simply is the realistic and thorough examination of the workplace and highlighting the areas which could potentially cause harm to employees. If are unsure what to do, speak to the relevant authorities (In the UK, its the health inspectors).
What happens next? When the assessment has been carried out, then a health and safety policy must be drawn up and displayed (if the company has 5 or more employees). It is essential that the workplace meets (and I say exceed, because that is the type of person I am) minimum standards for cleanliness and comfort. Furthermore, an injuries or accidents that occur must be carefully logged so that improvements can be made.
Failure to follow the laws governing this area has serious consequences. You could face a fine or in some cases a prison sentence. You may even be shut down to stop you acting in an illegal fashion. However most importantly, it will cost your business financially, even if you have insurance in place. For small businesses, this can prove fatal. Costs can include lost wages, damage to any property and/or machinery, investigation and resolving the problem plus any fines resulting from any lawsuits. Furthermore, your reputation will be seriously. As the saying goes, it takes a long time to build a reputation and a second to destroy it. A good repuation is not only good for your customers, it also helps employee motivation and supplier relationships.
By law, businesses must have adequate insurance in place. In the United Kingdom, you must have employers liability insurance. This is the barest minimum needed. There are other risks that must be protected against. Demonstrating that your business is committed to implementing robust health and safety procedures is crucial if you are to get the best insurance premiums. Insurers as well as inspectors will assess the measures that have been put into place. If they find them to be inadequate, they may well refuse to insure you making it impossible for you to continue trading.
HOW DO I GET THIS RIGHT?
- Firstly, get the right measures in place FROM THE START and review them
- Assess all environmental risks
- If something changes make sure your assessments are updated
- Make sure assessments are carried out thoroughly and regularly
- If you have employees, involve them as much as possible ad reward them if possible. Check to make sure they are following health and safety regulations.
- Check out and keep up to date with technologies that help in this area. Maintain equipment as per instructions to reduce health and safety risks and keep them running at their best
So there you have it. Health and safety is not the most glamorous subject but it must be tackled because people's lives and the reputation of your business are at stake. I hope this helps you make a start. Take care and God bless readers....