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Setting up a health & safety procedure in a new business

Photo shows a man in a business suit about to hurdleHealth and safety is a necessity for all new businesses, but it doesn't have to be a complicated process. Working out a simple and efficient approach that complies with legislation under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and consistently ensures the safety of employees can make managing your business easier. Good practice in health and safety can positively influence your business by:

  • Reducing staff absences and sick leave
  • Maintaining a positive reputation
  • Reducing the costs associated with accidents
  • Improving staff motivation levels
  • Boosting productivity and profits explains how you can set up health and safety procedures that will help your business run smoothly and safely.

Get equipped

Looking after your employees is a high priority when it comes to setting up a new business, and there are a number of facilities you can provide and procedures you must consider to ensure their safety. This includes:

  • Toilet facilities
  • Good ventilation
  • Suitable lighting
  • Somewhere to rest and eat meals
  • A suitably stocked first-aid box
  • A reasonable work temperature (below 16°C)
  • Appropriate waste containers

Manage the risks

The first stage in managing your business's potential risks is to identify what can harm people by taking a walk around the workplace and looking for any hazards. Common activities that could cause harm in the workplace include working at a height, and working with chemicals, machinery, gas, electricity and asbestos. For each hazard, you should think about:

  • The risk of somebody being harmed
  • Who can be harmed
  • How serious the harm will be

You can also ask your employees if they have noticed any potential risks, as they may have noticed hazards that aren't obvious to you. In addition, involving employees in the process shows you're serious about their safety, and allows them to raise concerns and influence decisions directly.

Once you've highlighted potential hazards, consider what should be done to reduce or eradicate the risk, and put the appropriate measures in place.

Write a health and safety policy

A health and safety policy is the best way to let your staff and others know that you are committed to providing a safe workplace. Writing a policy doesn't have to be time consuming, but should clearly outline:

  • What you want to achieve
  • What you are going to do
  • Who is responsible for specific actions

To help you, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has templates available on their website.

A written policy is a legal requirement for companies that employ five or more people. However, we would advise you to keep a record of health and safety procedures no matter the size of your organisation, so you are familiar with the process if and when you expand the company.

Provide training

Once you've written your health and safety policy it is important you relay the information to your team, so everyone working for you knows what they are expected to do. Training should be provided on the risks they face, what measures are in place to deal with hazards and how to follow emergency procedures. You should also record when training has been carried out to keep track of when refresher sessions might be needed.

It is also necessary to display the health and safety law poster in an easy-to-read position, so details of the policy are always available. If you don't have the HSE-approved law poster, you can buy one on the organisation's website.

Keep up to date

It is important that you keep a record of any accidents that take place in the workplace, so you can keep your health and safety procedures up to date. Recording injuries, incidents and cases of work-related illnesses will allow you to identify patterns and introduce effective measures to remove or reduce any future risk. In addition, your insurance company might want to see your records if an employee makes a claim for compensation.

Appoint someone to help

If you're not confident in your ability to manage all aspects of this side of the business, don't worry, you can appoint one or more people to help you meet your firm's requirements. This person must have the ability to work under pressure and make tough decisions, as well as have the knowledge and expertise to do the job effectively, and can be an employee or an external consultant. 

Health and safety may not be the first thing on your agenda as a start-up, but it's something that needs to be considered early on. It will make your business easier to manage, and help you avoid paying out compensation for accidents and penalties from the Health and Safety Executive. is a health and safety specialist with decades of experience, and provides products and equipment to businesses and organisations across the UK to improve safety in the workplace.

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