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The Foundations for a Safe and Thriving Workplace


Health and safety may not always seem to be the most important topic for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Business owners will often focus on growth, customer satisfaction and profitability


Health and safety can often be overlooked or an afterthought because it’s seen as complicated, confusion, time-consuming, obstructive, and so on.


However, it is important to get the basics right and ensure strong foundations to support future growth. By prioritising the safety and well-being of employees, businesses can protect their most important asset…. their people.


Good health and safety arrangements can also enhance reputation and create a more productive workplace.


In this blog, we introduce the health and safety basics needed to set the foundations for a safe and thriving workplace.

 

Essential Health and Safety Basics for Small Businesses



Create a Health and Safety Policy


If you have 5 or more employees, you should have a written health and safety policy that outlines your commitment to providing a safe working environment, the arrangements for identifying and managing potential hazards and risks, and the roles of those that have specific responsibilities for health and safety.


We refer to this as your health and safety management system.


It's important to regularly review and update your policy to ensure it remains relevant and effective.


Risk Assessment


Risk assessments are an essential part of maintaining a safe working environment. By identifying potential hazards and taking steps to eliminate or reduce them, businesses can reduce the likelihood of accidents, incidents, business disruption and/or damage to equipment.


Risk assessments should not be a one-time event. They should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure new hazards are identified and addressed.


Involve employees in the risk assessment process, as they often have valuable insights and knowledge of potential hazards in their work activities.

 

Employee Training


Providing training to employees is essential to ensure their awareness of potential hazards and any controls in place to protect them.


Training should cover topics such as fire safety, first aid, manual handling, and the proper use of equipment and machinery.

Make sure that new employees receive induction training and provide ongoing training and refresher courses as needed. By prioritising the development of a well-trained workforce, you are investing in both their safety and the long-term success of your business.

 

Emergency Preparedness


Emergencies can happen, and your employees need to know what to do in such situations. Develop clear and concise emergency procedures that cover fire evacuations, first aid response, and other critical situations. Regular drills should be conducted to ensure that everyone knows how to respond in an emergency. Having well-practiced procedures in place can save lives and minimize damage in critical situations.

 

Regular Inspections and Maintenance


Regular inspections and a scheduled maintenance plan ensure that potential hazards are identified and addressed promptly, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.


By conducting routine inspections, you can find issues before they escalate and ensure the equipment, including safety mechanisms, work properly.


This may include general inspections of the workplace, machinery and equipment checks and fire safety checks. Scheduled maintenance also prolongs the lifespan of your assets and avoids costly breakdowns and repairs.

 

Hazard Reporting


Implementing an effective employee reporting system for health and safety concerns sends a powerful message to your workforce—that their safety and well-being matters. It encourages a culture where employees are not only aware of potential hazards but are also actively engaged in mitigating them.


No matter how diligent your safety measures are, potential hazards can still lurk beneath the surface. Your employees are your eyes and ears on the ground, and they may spot risks that might go unnoticed relying on inspection, maintenance and other channels alone.


By providing a straightforward way for them to report concerns, you gain valuable insights into areas that require attention, preventing accidents before they happen. This can include online reporting forms, dedicated email addresses, suggestion boxes, or having a designated person.


Appoint a competent person.


One of the key requirements is to appoint a competent person that can help you manage your health and safety.


This individual should have the knowledge, training, skills and experience and will play a crucial role in implementing and maintaining your health and safety arrangements.


This doesn't mean you have to employ someone who has certain qualifications or years of experience, small businesses may outsource this to an external consultancy.


This decision should be based on the size of the organisations, the level of risk and complexity and the resources available.


 

Conclusion


Investing in health and safety measures may require some initial resources, but the long-term benefits are well worth it.


As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your employees and others who could be affected by your business’s activities. By creating robust and resilient health and safety arrangements, you can create a positive and thriving work environment that benefits everyone involved.

 

If you need some support to understand your responsibilities or you want to outsource your health and safety support please get in contact to discuss how we can help.



 

About the Author

Fadela Kerflani is a Health and Safety Consultant at Orchard Safety Ltd. Fadela started her career in facilities management where she was actively involved in health and safety. Transitioning across into a full-time health and safety role provided experience in a number of industries including social housing, construction, manufacturing, leisure and care.

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