One of the main points of confusion for small businesses is the extent that they need to adopt health and safety practices.
It is easy to view the need for constant EHS monitoring and compliance control as only needed in large construction firms and the major oil companies, however, the law lays down the responsibility of every employer to work towards creating an environment that is both health and safety for people to work in.
Here we breakdown the checklist that every small employer should adhere to when monitoring health and safety in the office.
Step 1: Create a proper health and safety policy for your workplace
The first step and one that often causes the most apprehension amongst employers is the need for a proper health and safety policy. So long as you have 5 or more employees, you need to have a health and safety policy that communicates your views as a company and your legal duties to your workers. Make sure you outline the health and safety roles and who is the responsible person when it comes to health and safety management.
Step 2: Assign someone the role of managing health and safety
When you have developed a suitable health and safety policy it is time to appoint someone to monitor and ensure it is being adhered to. If you are in a smaller business without a safety specific role, look at your employees and which one may be best suited to monitoring health and safety. The role of health and safety management often works well in more operational roles. Make sure you do not just hand off responsibility to someone else; health and safety management needs to be present throughout the business.
Step 3: Produce risk assessments for the necessary risks to workers and customers
When you have a policy and someone to enforce it you should start to think about potential risk assessments that can be done to take stock in the workplace. For offices these often involve looking at routine operations and the hazards that could be present. This could be the long-term damage of desk work or even the stairs that may be present within the workplace. Looking into office ergonomics can give you some insight into how your workers may be exposing themselves to risks.
Step 4: Communicate with workers the protective action for the relevant risks
After conducting relevant risk assessments, you should try to take preventative measures and communicate the risks to your workers. This will then give you a better platform to evaluate the risks and how best to deal with them. If workers are made aware of the risk of say, lifting heavy deliveries incorrectly it will increase the likelihood of them adopting the correct technique.
Step 5: Display the ‘health and safety: what you need to know’ poster
Generating awareness can be a great way to make workers more mindful of dangers to their own and their co-co-workers health. The health and safety: what you need to know poster is a good way to do that. In addition to it being a legal requirement when it comes to health and safety management, it also gives you as the employer the opportunity to reinforce good safety habits in workers.
Step 6: Make sure you report RIDDOR reportable incidents
Whilst you may hope to never fill out a RIDDOR report, knowing the basics of the legislation is important when it comes to making sure your business is health and safety compliant. RIDDOR reports are made when the qualifying incidents have occurred within the workplace. Usually, the employer is required to fill out the report or the ‘responsible person’ of a workplace.
Step 7: Monitor and improve your procedures over time
Do not make the mistake of thinking once health and safety procedures have been created that they can be ignored. You should always be looking at your workplaces from a safety perspective and thinking about how you can improve your practices and the uptake of safety mindsets within your company.
What about other small businesses?
This is a checklist targeted towards office-based companies who may not have clear outlines on managing health and safety. However, the basic principles of having the necessary risk assessments and a proper health and safety policy will ensure your operations are safe and legal. These principles can be included in a health and safety checklist for restaurants and partially covers mechanic businesses and retail stores.
In addition to traditional health and safety practices, increased monitoring of health and wellbeing can help you create a culture in your office that promotes creativity and a happier workforce.