Estimated reading time: 6 mins
When you start a business your head will be filled with budgets and plans. You will be worrying about sourcing funding and then as soon as you get your team into place, you will no doubt want to get them straight on with the job of building your business up to where you want it to be. It can be hard juggling all of the things that you need to do when you are starting a company, but you will need to remember to keep your focus wide and keep one important area of your business in mind at all times, and that is health and safety.
The moment that you open a business that has team members, clients, customers, and visitors, you will be creating a place that will need to be safe for everyone. Their safety will be your responsibility, and if you fail to meet this you could very well face fines that could cost you your business. In the worst cases, you could be responsible for the injury or death of a member of staff and as a result may end up going to prison.
It is therefore vital that your business has a robust set of health and safety policies and procedures that will be stringently managed and upheld so that you are legally compliant and so that your staff have a safe place that they can come and do their jobs in.
The moment somebody starts working for you, they are your responsibility. This means that if anything happens to them from that point onwards, it could be deemed as being your fault if you have not provided adequate training and all of the necessary safety equipment needed whilst ensuring the workplace is hazard-free.
The first step with any new employee should be to carry out full health and safety training with them before they do any other form of training or work. You will need to start with fire training including a full tour of their new place of work to show them fire exits, evacuation routes, and emergency meeting points.
You should make sure that they know where all of the fire alarms are as well as how to raise the alarm and alert the fire brigade. Make them aware of all of the fire extinguisher locations too and how they should use them.
If they are using any particular equipment within the workplace they will need to know how to use this safety and you may want to bring in a company such as Puwer Training to utilize their thorough packages which will cover every aspect of training that your team will need.
It is often overlooked by many employers, but you should always train your team if they are performing any lifting and carrying as well as using stepladders, knives, or any form of chemicals too. While it may always seem like common sense that these things be done in the safest way possible, but it is too often true that staff members will cut corners to try to get the job done quicker or to meet their targets and the demands of the business.
Training should be periodically reviewed with all of the team members. It may seem counter-productive, but having refresher training at least once a year is necessary in any business, and even with the most sensible employees.
You should keep records of all of your staff training on file. This will be your protection in the event of an accident as it will demonstrate that you have followed best practice and have done everything within your power to mitigate the risk.
It is your duty as a business leader to carry out regular risk assessments to find out what the specific hazards are in your business. These should be reviewed and rewritten if there are any changes within the business. Changes may include things such as moving to a new location or getting new machinery installed.
For each risk that you identify, you need to work out the likelihood of an accident happening. You should also look for ways to reduce the risk of this happening. For example, you may find that you could carry out maintenance work to rectify the problem, or the risk may be greatly reduced by putting up warning signs or safety barriers. If there are any specific training needs based around each hazard, make sure that you highlight these and brief your teams. Again, this training should be documented, especially if it falls outside of your regular health and safety training.
For any members of your team that may be vulnerable, you will also need to carry out a risk assessment for them. This may mean disabled people, expectant mothers, young workers, or people working on their own. This will look at anything that is a specific hazard to them, and whether any duties need to be amended to reduce the risks.
Carrying Out Inspections
In your business, it is your duty to make sure that all of your equipment is safe to use. This means that you should do daily visual checks to make sure that you believe them to be safe. If you see anything that could be a hazard, don’t use it and mark it unsafe so that nobody else uses it. You should call a contractor to come and repair it at the earliest convenient time.
Your fire safety equipment should be tested weekly too. This means having an alarm test done to ensure that all of the bells sound. You should check your emergency lighting works too and make sure that your extinguishers have not been tampered with and are in the correct locations.
Every year you should have contractors come out to ensure that your fire safety equipment is all working as it should do. They will check your fire panels and check everything is as it needs to be. All machinery should be regularly checked by a registered engineer. They will look for maintenance issues and if anything needs replacing or repairing they can do this before the machine is used again.
Stepladders will require visual inspections of a regular basis too. Dents in the metal may weaken the structure, and if the plastic feet get broken this could make them uneven.
In addition to the training that a new member of staff will receive when they join your company, you should hold an annual fire evacuation. Doing this will provide a refresher for all of your staff, and it will also test the speed and appropriateness of the response to the fire alarm being sounded. All fire drills should be documented with any recommendations for training being noted alongside them.
The best practice when it comes to health and safety in any business is to carry out audits to make sure that all of your staff are completing everything that needs to be done. Where a visual check is carried out, they should be recording this in a log. Whenever a fire test is done.
Going through all of your health and safety paperwork to ensure that all of your staff are following the procedures that you have laid out is not only vital for safety, it will also alert you to any problems in your team not doing the work that they should be. Getting everyone behind your companies health and safety is crucial if you are to have an effective set of procedures that work.