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This article helps you forget the paperwork and get to grips with the core foundations to Health & Safety compliance

I love Health & Safety!

That is not a throwaway comment. I really do love health and safety. If you start with the legislation, it was first introduced in 1974 and the core act remains in force without change 40 years later. You could argue it is one of the most successful pieces of regulatory legislation ever introduced.

The reason why I love this legislation is because of how it helps my customers. It helps them to protect their employees in the workplace from injury or disease. That is a real benefit to those businesses. Less workplace accidents and lower workplace risk means a more efficient and more productive business. Fewer Employer’s Liability claims means cheaper and more stable insurance costs, which helps my customers budget better and make more profit.

Seven simple steps to a working Health & Safety policy

Most of all, the legislation is really simple to understand and comply with. If that statement has you throwing your head back in disbelief then perhaps you are one of those businesses who gets lost in the paperwork. Just remember that sitting back and throwing in the towel is a breach of your duty of care which can lead to prosecution, if you are taking the Health & Safety seriously and making progress you are starting to comply with the requirements. My thoughts, for any SMEs wanting to make a start, first put the paperwork to one side and start from the following foundations:

Step one – Identify who in the business will take responsibility for the Health & Safety Plan
Step two – Make sure that person understands the main requirements of the legislation, available on the HSE Website
Step three – Understand what a hazard is and how to assess the risk that hazard gives rise to
Step four – Understand how risk control measures are introduced and the order of priority from Elimination being 1st priority down to PPE being the last
Step five – Identify the hazards, assess the risks, arrange risks in order of risk rating (see step three) with the highest first
Step six – Work from top down asking what you currently do to control that risk and if there is anything else that would be reasonably practicable to introduce.
Step seven – Start introducing the new controls, communicating with your employees so they understand what is going on

You have now made a start and most importantly you have complied with the primary requirement of the legislation, to undertake risk assessments. I recommend you write everything down! This is so you can demonstrate what you have done and can remember you plans.

To complete your plan, I recommend you take all your risk assessment documentation to a reputable Health & Safety practitioner who (for around £500 for most SME businesses) can help you draw up all the required paperwork, fill any gaps you may have missed and talk to you about other requirements like a training matrix and communication with employees.

With Employer’s Liability claims costing thousands and the impact on your businesses costing even more, a mere £500 investment is money well spent.

Health & Safety shorts

Dont forget Driving. This is a business activity and you need to do risk assessments on this.

Ever see an employee carrying a box by the packing straps while still holding a stanley knife? What happens next is the strap snaps and the knife embeds itself in the face, normally the right eye!

Think it is unfair that the onus is all on the employer. Well the good news is that your employees have a responsibility too. If they fail in their responsibility they can be arrested and prosecuted, they might be more interested in health & safety than you think.

Good news – if you have a full Health & Safety policy with risks assessments, most insurers will give you premium discount.