Health and safety law applies to all businesses, however small. Every employer has a legal responsibility to protect the health and safety of their staff and others – such as customers and members of the public – who may be affected by their work activities.
Health and safety duties also extend to the self-employed and employees.
Starting a new business can be daunting, and you may be unsure how to start managing health and safety in your workplace. The following points take you through your legal responsibilities.
Health and safety policy
A health and safety policy is a plan detailing how you are going to manage health and safety in your business. It is a document that defines who does what, when and how they do it. If your business employs less than five people you are not legally required to have a written health and safety policy statement. However, you must still ensure that you work safely, and a written policy can help you do this.
Display the health and safety law poster
Employers have a legal duty to display the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Law poster in each workplace or provide each worker with a copy of the equivalent leaflet. The poster includes basic health and safety information and lets people know who is responsible for health and safety in your workplace. You must display the poster where your workers can easily read it, and it must be in a readable condition.
Take out Employers’ Liability Insurance
If your employees get injured or become ill as a result of their work in your employment, they may try to claim compensation from you if they think you are responsible. Employers’ Liability Insurance ensures that you have a minimum level of insurance cover against such claims.
Meet workplace standards
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 cover a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare issues and apply to most workplaces (with the exception of those workplaces involving construction work on construction sites, those in or on a ship, or those below ground at a mine).
They are amended by the Quarries Regulations 1999, the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002, the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
Understanding accident reporting
As an employer there is a legal requirement to report certain accidents or incidents under the Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). This system must only be used by employers or their representatives. You need to report deaths, major injuries, accidents resulting in over seven day injury, diseases, dangerous occurrences and gas incidents.
You must keep a record of any reportable injury, disease or dangerous occurrence. This must include:
- the date and method of reporting
- the date, time and place of the event
- personal details of those involved
- brief description of the nature of the event or disease
You can keep the record in any form you wish. It is recommended that you use your accident book to record this information.
Consult your employees
By law, employers must consult all of their employees on health and safety matters. Businesses can become more efficient and reduce the number of accident and work-related illnesses. Some workers who are self-employed, for example for tax purposes, are classed as employed under health and safety law.
Train your employees
You are legally required to provide training for your employees to ensure they know how to work safely and without risks to health. They must know:
- what hazards and risks they may face;
- how to deal with them; and
- any emergency procedures
As an employer or a self employed person, you will need to keep yourself up to date with your legal duties and know how to identify hazards and control risks arising from your work.
Comply with Smoke free legislation
Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed or substantially enclosed public places and workplaces and is an offence to:
- smoke in smokefree premises
- permit others to smoke in smokefree premises
- fail to display warning notices in smokefree premises
- For more information visit Smoke free Preston.
Carry out a fire risk assessment
Fire safety is enforced primarily by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, and should you require further help or advise you should contact them.
Contact other Council services
You may also need to contact other council services such as business rates to find out how to pay your national non domestic rates, (NNDR) and Business waste and recycling to find out how to dispose of your trade waste. You may need to apply for planning permission or building control, or you may need to register a food business with the Food Safety Team.