Health and safety

When do I need to have a Health and Safety Policy?

It is always good practice to have a Health and Safety policy. Although, when you employ 5 or more people you must have a written policy in place. This should be made available to all employees. The common format that is used is as follows:

  • The statement of general policy on health and safety at work. This will detail your policy and best practice for achieving your policy goals.
  • Who you have made the responsible person for managing your policy and their responsibilities.
  • The final section should clearly and in detail explain the practical delivery and management of your health and safety policy. I.e. how you will deliver your statements and goals.

This will often include risk assessments and accident books for reporting (please note there are specific requirements to ensure Data protection is maintained). Often, when reviewing health and safety in the workplace, terms such as risk and hazard are used. These are defined by the following: Risk = the chance of happening, Hazard = something that could cause harm.

Highlighted areas for attention raised in your risk assessment could suggest the requirement for some of the following:
  • Signage highlighting potential danger, fire exists, extinguishers, safety clothing or equipment requirements such as hi-visability or glasses etc.
  • Staff training might be identified, as stress falls under health and safety. Are your staff members adequately trained to do the job you are requesting them to carry out?
  • Improved lighting for areas which have poor light or are catering for use of machinery that requires good visibility.

The focus needs to be based on the potential risks and what they are, do they present a hazard? Your solutions should then be guided on this basis.

Insurance

In the UK it is law for employers to have liability insurance. This is an element of protection for you, your business or company and that of your employees. Obviously, this is in place if all of your health and safety plans have failed or you have failed to identify the risks correctly. Equally it could be due to an employee failing to follow the guidance you have set in place, which would not impact you or your business as long as you can prove that you had taken reasonable steps to avoid the accident. Regardless, you should be prepared and ensure that you have adequate insurance in place should it all go wrong.

First aid

You should ensure that at the very least you have a suitably equipped first aid box. One which is replenished regularly (first aid items have a best before date). You must also ensure that all of your employees know where to locate it. Having a first aid box is a must, but not the entirety of your requirements. You must also ensure that you have someone who is appointed to take charge in the event of a first aid need. Ideally you should ensure this person is located in the environment you are working and where your risk assessment has identified as a need. In an office, clearly having a person who is there the majority, if not all, of the time is good practice. If this isn’t possible you may require more than one trained first aider. There are a number of first aid training courses offering training from basic to advanced, depending on your risks, you may want to commit a small spend and have your appointed person or people given professional training. It’s worth noting that this should be refreshed, but your provider will advise on their suggested re-training intervals.