Starting up a new company is exciting.
Between branching out into a new area, hiring staff, getting your business premises sorted and much much more, you will have countless things to think about.
Perhaps one aspect that is not as exhilarating is creating a health and safety policy.
It probably isn’t at the top of your ‘must-do’ list; however, it is vitally important. For startups, creating a health and safety policy is vital. In this week’s blog, we’re going to look at:
- Why you need a health and safety policy for your new company
- Some key questions to help startups
- Why training is crucial for you and your staff
- Where to find out more information around health and safety
Reducing the risk
The key aim of a health and safety plan is to reduce risk.
This is the same thinking behind your overall business plan. Your business plan is there so you have a coherent strategy going forward, and to try and ensure that your business is successful.
Health and safety means that you, as an employer, must:
“ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of yourself and others who may be affected by what you do or do not do.” – Health and Safety Executive
Safety breaches may still happen, but as long as you have taken the necessary steps to reduce the risk, then you will have done everything you can as a business.
Key questions for new companies
To help you understand a bit more about what you need to do as a startup, we’ve come up with some basic questions and answers.
Do I really need a health and safety policy?
Yes – it is required by law.
If you have less than five employees, then you don’t actually have to write your health and safety policy down. That being said, you do need to have one, and it is useful to have it in written form regardless of how many employees you have.
You also need to carry out a risk assessment. This means you have to:
- identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
- decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
- take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk
This is stipulated in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999).
What do you need to take into consideration?
Aside from ensuring that general health and safety is covered as well as whatever applies to your specific business and type of work, there are also things that are additionally protected under the law.
- Special considerations for young people (those under the age of 18) such as those who are on work experience. You usually don’t need a separate risk assessment for this.
- People with disabilities, particularly when it comes to fire safety and evacuation procedures.
- You’ll need to register as a food provider if you serve food at your business and this applies to both serving food to staff and the general public
- Pregnant women require another risk assessment to be carried out
Do you need to report health and safety incidents?
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (or RIDDOR as it is more commonly known as) require you to report certain incidents.
- Fatalities at work
- Incidents that cause serious injuries to employees or if it has caused the employee to be ‘incapacitated’ for seven consecutive days
- Industrial diseases
- Injuries to the general public
- Near miss incidents which could have led to a serious incident
You’ll also need to keep records of injuries that cause incapacitation for over three days and a report will need to be sent to the enforcing authority for any injuries that cause incapacitation for over seven days – the day of the incident itself isn’t counted.
Will you have a safety inspection?
You may have a health and safety inspection at your premises and a health and safety inspector can visit any workplace without having to give prior notice.
These fall into course main categories: Safety Tours which are simply general inspections to make sure you are complying with the law, Safety Sampling which is systematic sampling if you carry out dangerous activities, Safety Surveys are general inspections if you carry out dangerous activities and finally Incident Inspections if an accident, injury, fatality or near miss has occurred.
Invest in training
One of the best ways to ensure that you and your employees comply with the law is to invest in property training.
We offer a wide range of health and safety courses from the IOSH training which covers general managing safely and working safely to the Site Safety Plus Scheme and safety courses which cover a whole host of specific topics.
Training on its own won’t fully prevent accidents and safety breaches from occurring but it is necessary and they’ll ensure that you and your staff know the law and what procedures to follow in your new business.
Where to find more information
Below you will find links to the various aspects of health and safety that we have mentioned in this blog.
- Writing a health and safety policy
- Reporting accidents, incidents and diseases
- Health and safety and young people
- Risk assessments for pregnant women
- Registering as a food provider
- Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999)
- Risk Assessments at work
- Health and safety inspections