Everything you need to know about keeping your employees safe at work

When working hard to bring success to your business, whether it be a small, recently-formed outfit or a large enterprise, you mustn’t overlook the need for compliance with health and safety regulations. 1.2 million people picked up work-related illnesses in the UK during 2014 and 2015, that country’s Federation of Small Businesses reports.

In fact, the country lost 27.3 million working days to illness or workplace injury throughout those years. If your firm operates in the UK, then the national government body known as the Health and Safety Executive has provided advice for getting the safety basics right.

Write down a health and safety policy

If your company’s employees number more than five, then you are legally required to keep a written policy about their workplace’s health and safety measures. In this policy, you can describe how your business will handle health and safety – including details of who will carry out what safety procedures, not to mention when and how.

Don’t feel too daunted; it is not necessary for your policy to be complex or take a lot of time to write. In fact, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has posted a downloadable template that you can complete. If you are still indecisive about how to complete it, then you could refer to HSE’s example health and safety policy.

One of your own policy’s inclusions, as HSE’s template makes clear, should be your risk assessment. There is where you judge what risks your corporate premises pose to workers and what sensible steps you should take to prevent harm arising from these risks. While you might already be carrying out some form of risk assessment, this more formal method of doing so can help you in ensuring that you have taken account of all of the necessities.

Assess and control the workplace risks

Don’t fret about any possibility of paperwork gathering in big bundles as you get underway with this risk assessment. You should be focusing your efforts on significant risks rather than everyday ones. You can exert a greater degree of practical control over those bigger risks.

While UK law does not compel you to banish every single risk that your workers face, you remain expected to protect such personnel to the greatest extent that is reasonably practicable. This means that unforeseeable risks don’t strictly fall into the remit.

“It all comes down to what you expect people to do at work,” health and safety consultant Sean Conry has advised. “An office-based business is a low-risk environment compared with manufacturing, where you’ll be working with a lot of equipment.”

A good way of starting is by walking around the workplace while keeping an eye out for anything that has the potential to bring harm. Then consider factors like the extent of the risk, how accidents might arise, and the possible victims of harm. Once you have discerned how to control identified risks, go ahead with enacting those measures.

Provide safety training and information

This is about ensuring that every member of your staff is familiar with safe working practices. Hence, it is necessary for you to provide the right training and details. Nonetheless, as far as you can, scale the training provision in accordance with your company’s genuine needs.

Your staff might not derive much return from time-consuming technical training, for example, if they work in a basic office that lacks a high amount of technical equipment. Imparting more simple instructions and information to them might be a more efficient approach in that scenario.

Everyone working for you – including not only your in-house team, but also contractors and freelancers – must be kept informed. They should know about – to cite just two examples – any hazards they might face and measures that have been enacted for tackling them.

Have the right facilities and arrangements

There are particular procedures that you must follow to preserve your workplace’s safety. For example, there should be a fire extinguisher available at many different points in the building (visit this page for more information on those). In the event of a fire, there should be no risk of not having one to hand. Those include properly maintaining the premises, plus work equipment used there; preventing obstructions on floors; and ensuring that windows can be safely opened and cleaned.

On a similar subject, you should also check that, where there are transparent doors or walls, they comprise safety material or are protected. However, you still can’t entirely rule out the possibility of an accident that calls for first aid; thus, you also need arrangements to that end.

Should any of your employees become ill or injured at work, you have responsibility for ensuring that they immediately receive attention. The precise first-aid arrangements your firm should have will depend on your workplace’s circumstances.

However, the bare minimum necessities are an aptly-stocked first-aid box, someone appointed to decide first-aid arrangements, and – given to all workers – information about first-aid arrangements. You could also opt to have a first-aider; in other words, an individualwho a competent first-aid training provider has trained.

Take out a policy in employers’ liability insurance

If work that they carry out for you results in an employee picking up an injury or illness, that worker could have a claim for compensation. It’s worth pointing out that you should not need to pay such compensation if the cause of the injury or illness was after 1 October 2013 and you have made reasonable steps to avoid your workers becoming involved inaccidents or harmed in any other way.

If, however, a court deems that you are indeed liable to pay out, then employers’ liability insurance could help you prevent your business becoming crippled by this financial hit. In fact, UK law requires all but a few of that country’s businesses to take out employers’ liability insurance.

You may not require it if, for instance, your firm has no employees – this can remove the pressure for you to have this insurance right from day one of doing business – or you are employing only people to whom you are closely related.

Finding a cost-effective policy in employer liability insurance could too easily elude you unless you get some help. Thankfully, there is such help with the policy comparison service available from Be Wiser Business Insurance.

Colin Shaw
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Written by Colin Shaw

Colin has been in the finance market for over 20 years and specialises in best business practice to make an organisation profitable. The only man for the job when it comes to numbers and accounts with a keen talent for simplifying finance for the wider market.