Starting up a business
Good practice in health and safety is beneficial for your business, it doesn’t have to be complicated and it’s a legal requirement of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The publication Health and Safety made simple will make it easier for you to comply with the law and manage health and safety in your business and the toolbox link provides more detailed advice to help you identify, assess and control common risks in the workplace.
Health and Safety Policy
Law: If you have five or more employees, you must have a written policy.
Even if you are not legally required to have a documented policy it is recommended as it provides the basis for the management of health and safety and you can download and complete your policy on line. The policy should clearly state who does what, when and how, and whilst the overall responsibility for health and safety rests with the employer, some of the health and safety duties can be delegated to managers or supervisors. A policy will only be effective if you and your staff follow it and review it regularly.
Click here for Health and safety made simple
Click here for Health and safety toolbox - How to control risks
Click here for interactive tools for you to use in Microsoft Word, such as: 'example health and safety policy' and example 'risk assessment and policy template'.
Law: If you have 5 or more employees you must have a documented risk assessment. However even if you have less than 5 it is still the duty of every employer to consider potential health and safety hazards that may affect anyone who comes into contact with their business activities.
There is a blank risk assessment form attached to the policy document above, but for more detail on carrying out risk assessments, please proceed to the risk assessment advice section for more detailed guidance.
Health and Safety law poster
Law: Employers are required to either display the approved health and safety law poster or to provide each of their staff with the equivalent leaflet.
Click here for Health and Safety Law - What you need to know.
Click here for Frequently asked questions on the health and safety law poster.
If your business has employees you will probably need Employers' Liability Insurance (ELI). If you have no employees, or are a family business and all employees are closely related to you, you may not need it. Employer’s liability insurance will enable you to meet the cost of any compensation for your employees’ injuries or illness as a result of the work they do for you.
Law: Where ELI is required a current certificate must be readily available where employees and regulators can view it and this can include electronically. If you do not display the certificate of insurance or refuse to make it available to regulatory inspectors when they ask, you can be fined up to £1000. You can also be fined up to £2500 for any day which you are without suitable insurance.
Public liability insurance (PLI) is not compulsory but provides cover against claims made by members of the public who have suffered injury or damage to property in connection with your business. It is designed to pay compensation which can include loss of earnings, future loss of earnings and damages awarded to the claimant in addition to your legal cost in defending the claim and the claimants' legal costs that you incur if you are found to be at fault.
Click here for Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969: A brief guide for employers.
As an employer, you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety. You probably manage most aspects of your business yourself including health and safety but you could also appoint other employees or someone from outside your business to help.
Click here for advice on getting specialist help with health and safety INDG420
Information, Instruction and Training
Everyone who works for you needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. Ask your employees what they think about training to make sure it’s relevant and effective. You must provide all employees with clear instructions, information and adequate training in a form that is easy to understand.
Don’t forget contractors and self-employed people who may be working for you and make sure everyone has information on hazards and risks they may face; measures in place to deal with those hazards and risks; and how to follow any emergency procedures.
Keeping training records will help you to identify when refresher training might be needed.
Everyone working for you should know what they are expected to do.
Click here for Health and safety training: What you need to know.
Consulting with Employees
Law: Under the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 (as amended), employers must consult all their employees on health and safety matters.
Consultation involves employers not only giving information to employees but also listening to, and taking account of what they say before making any health and safety decisions and can result in healthier and safer workplaces.
Click here for INDG232 - Consulting employees on health and safety: A brief guide to the law.
Law: Every employer should make an assessment of first-aid needs appropriate to the circumstances of each workplace. In an organisation where the risk assessment identifies a comparatively low risk to health and safety, employers may only need to provide a clearly identified and suitably stocked first-aid container and an appointed person to look after first-aid arrangements and take charge in emergencies. Click here for advice on first aid at work.
The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. Approved Code of Practice and guidance Download a free copy INDG214: First aid at work: Your questions answered click here
Law: Under the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations1979 employers must keep an accident record when a worker has been incapacitated for more than three consecutive days. Incapacitation means that the worker is absent, or is unable to do work that they would reasonably be expected to do as part of their normal work.
The accident book is also a valuable document that organisations can use to record accident information as part of their management of health and safety. It can be used to record details of injuries from accidents at work that employers must report under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). For further information please proceed to the Reporting Accident section on the HSE website. You can access the website by clicking here.