As a business owner, it is your duty to look after the health and safety of the people who work for you, and the people who use your premises. The following four things represent some of your key obligations – it’s vital that you understand their impact on the running of your company.
Health and safety are two different things
Government provisions in Health and Safety legislation are designed to ensure that you look after the health of your workforce as well as their safety.
Health is broadly defined as the overall wellbeing of your employees in their day to day work. Safety is their ability to work without undue danger of accident or exposure to pathogens, contaminants or other dangerous substances.
The health of your workforce is looked after by legislation that controls the number of hours that may be worked consecutively, or by laws that require you to keep your workplace free from unnecessary dirt and clutter. In some cases, legal requirements overlap: for example, fire safety legislation ultimately requires that you keep your workplace free from clutter in order to minimise the risk of a blaze.
Health and safety is not designed to prevent you running your business
Most health and safety legislation takes into account the needs of the business owner. Some industries, for instance, are naturally dangerous – road maintenance, or industrial cleaning, or the manufacture of chemicals. Other industries have seasonal requirements that take precedence over the Working Time Directive. In the hospitality industry, and in any other industry that is legally deemed to rely on unsociable hours for making money, it is not unlawful to ask your staff to work shifts without the normal eight hour break between them.
Not all health and safety legislation can be complied with internally
Some legislation requires you to have certification, inspection or recommendation delivered by a professionally competent person. In these cases, you may need to rely on outside assistance to ensure that you comply with the law. Fire safety training, for instance, cannot be delivered by the owner of a business unless that business owner happens to be qualified in fire safety. It is your responsibility to ensure that internal competent persons have been trained and certified by recognised and appropriate bodies. Failure to do so may be seen as a failure to provide the protection you need to provide.
Health and safety is an ongoing concern
When you do a risk assessment, you are identifying issues that need current attention, and issues that may develop into problems in the future. Because of this, you are legally required to conduct future risk assessments at regular intervals, to monitor the implementation of previous recommendations as well as to ensure that no new hazards have developed. If, for instance, you have identified a lack of general cleanliness as potentially hazardous to worker health, you’ll need to revisit that problem in later risk assessments to see that it has been cleared up. Possible solutions include replacing handheld cleaning equipment with a ride on sweeper or a buffing machine. Click here for more details.
The Author is a professional business writer, whose blog posts and articles have been published on more than 250 highly respected business sites during his 12 year career. He has been maintaining a network of business blogs for the past 5 years, many of which now receive more than half a million unique visitors every day.