There is a lot of fuss about health and safety in the UK with articles in the papers about all sorts of things being banned under health and safety law. Although many of these are H&S myths, there are enough to scare many small business owners into thinking that a health and safety inspector is hiding around the corner waiting to pounce on them and fine them enormous amounts of money.

What is Health and Safety ?

Put very simply, health and safety is about preventing people from being harmed at work or becoming ill through work, the law states that we must not put ourselves; other workers or the public in danger and this applies to all businesses of all sizes. Note that both the employer and employees are responsible – you are not allowed to put other workers in danger.

What can I do to improve Health and Safety in my business ?

Take a good look around at the working conditions in your business. Can you spot any obvious things wrong? Are there any exposed wires on electrical equipment ? Are there any cables trailing across the floor that need to have a cable tidy on them to make them safer? When was the last time that all the electrical equipment and mains wiring was checked? If there was a fire are there ways out of the building? Are the fire doors blocked or locked? Do you expect people to lift heavy weights without any help? In a warehouse type of environment is it possible to separate fork lift trucks from people?

Basically, look around as if you do not own the business and think about how safe you are in the working environment.

You may need some safety signs or personal protection equipment (ppe) like face masks or safety shoes or it may be something as simple as a having a first aid kit or installing an

that will come on if the power fails to give staff and visitors a way of seeing their way out of the building.

What else do I need to think about?

The basic health and safety rules for a business in England and Wales require you to provide toilets, washing facilities and drinking water for all your employees. This includes part time staff, permanent staff, temporary staff and also those with disabilities.

There is also a legal requirement for a first aider. The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 require you to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to enable first aid to be given to your employees if they are injured or become ill at work. Most small businesses will however only need to fulfil the minimum first aid requirement which is to have a suitably stocked first aid box on site (what is in the box depends on the type of business that you are) and an appointed person on site to take charge of first aid arrangements. The appointed person should be trained in health and safety and there are courses that you can send your staff on to gain the “First Aider at Work” qualification.

I need some help

If you are at all worried about health and safety in your business there are consultants and organisations that will visit your business and draw up the plans and paperwork for you. These can be found in most areas of the country, for example there are health and safety consultants in Lincolnshire that cover Lincolnshire and the surrounding areas.

You can also read more about H&S by looking at the Health and Safety Executive’s website where they have a wide range of advice and publications or by downloading our brief guide to Health and Safety.

You may wish to consider a having a member of your staff properly trained in Health & Safety law by sending them on a specially designed training program carried out by an external company who run all kinds of Health and Safety based legal training courses.

NB: Please note that this material is published for the information of our visitors. No action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation and/or seeking professional advice. We do not give professional advice on business startups and therefore cannot accept any responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the above material.