Creating a health and safety culture in the workplace

One of the first considerations you need to think about when starting a business is health and safety.

Not only are you responsible for your employees but also for any visitors to your premises. Failure to comply with health and safety regulations can result in severe penalties and in the worst instances, imprisonment. Employers’ responsibilities are laid out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

A health and safety prosecution could be a disaster for your business and in the event of a legal claim there are specialist health & safety lawyers that can help your defence. However, there are several procedures you can put in place yourself to promote a culture of health and safety in your workplace.

Appoint someone to manage health and safety

Employers must appoint someone to be responsible for health and safety duties. It could be a manager or other employee or an external organisation.

Write a health and safety policy

One of the first things to prepare is a written health and safety policy. Any business with five or more employees will be required to have this by law. The policy should clearly state who does what, when, where and why.

Prepare a risk assessment

A risk assessment should be carried out to spot potential health and safety hazards. You won’t be expected to remove all risks, but any that are there must be documented and controlled to minimise them. Every workplace is different and your assessment will depend upon the nature of your business. The kind of hazards you would expect to find include:

– Slips, trips and falls

– Injuries relating to heavy lifting

– Excessive noise or extremes of temperature

– Exposure to chemicals or other hazardous materials

– Working with members of the public where there could be a risk of violence

– Training

Everyone who works for you must know how to work safely and without risk to their health. It is up to you to provide information and training for your employees, including contractors. Each employee must be fully informed about risks they face, how to deal with those risks and what to do in an emergency. You must also display a health and safety poster.

Your responsibilities

It is your responsibility to ensure a safe, clean and comfortable working environment with properly maintained equipment. There are specific laws relating to higher-risk workplaces and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website can provide further information and several useful downloads. You will find that health and safety solicitors will also be able to provide guidance to ensure your business complies with the regulations.

Accidents or ijuries

You must ensure your employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or become ill at work. It is vital to have a first-aid box and someone trained in administering first aid. By law, you must keep records of injuries, accidents or work-related illnesses. This will help to identify areas of concern for future risk assessments and will protect you in the event of an insurance claim.

Accidents at work are common. It is estimated that almost 600,000 people were injured in the workplace last year. An accident or injury in the workplace could be disastrous for your business. Having effective health and safety practices in place will protect your business and enhance your reputation among customers, employees and regulators.

There are huge penalties to pay for non-compliance. If there is anything you are unsure about you should get advice from health & safety lawyers.

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