The moment you take on employees, you don’t just have yourself to think about anymore. Employing someone means that you automatically have a duty of care towards them, to make sure they are safe at work and that they’re being treated fairly.
Even if you know all of this, do you know where to start? Do you feel overwhelmed even at the thought of trying to find the time to research what you need to put in place to protect your employees, yourself and your business? This will apply especially if you’ve never had any experience of putting together contracts and policies.
In this podcast, I’m going to look at health and safety.
This can be an area that overwhelms many business owners because it can seem like there are so many legal hoops to jump through, but the consequences of neglecting your health and safety obligations can have very serious consequences.
Let’s have a brief recap of your health and safety obligations as a business owner. As you’ll probably know, The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) is the main legislation that covers health and safety in the UK. Health and safety law applies to all businesses, whether you’re a one-man-band or you employ 100 people, though obviously if you’re a sole trader running a low-risk business, you’ll have far fewer legal obligations than a factory owner employing a few hundred people.
What you need to implement
If you have less than five employees, you’re not even legally required to write down risk assessments or health and safety policy, but that doesn’t mean you’re exempt from making sure that people are kept safe from harm. You have to demonstrate that any risks in the workplace are controlled.
Look at your business and identify things that could potentially cause harm. Involve employees in this, because after all, they are the ones who are constantly ‘on the ground’ so they are best placed to spot any hazards you may not have thought of.
After you’ve identified risks, the next step is to put things in place to prevent people from being harmed. Remember that you’re never going to be able to eliminate risk completely, but you can always minimise it.
Your health and safety policy is where you state how you will manage health and safety in your business. The policy should be considered a ‘living document’ as it will change as your business, work tasks, or processes change. If you’ve ever seen a health and safety policy, you might remember that it looks like a gargantuan folder full of boxes to be ticked and forms to be filled in. But to simplify it, your policy should be comprised of three parts:
A statement of intent- this should detail your commitment to managing health and safety in your business. You’ll need to review this regularly.
Responsibilities for Health and Safety
The next section will cover who has responsibilities for health and safety and will list their names and job roles.
Then lastly, there should be details of the practical health and safety arrangements that are in place and how you will achieve your aims. So for example, this could include offering specific training to employees or providing them with protective clothing.
As well as having a policy in place, you also need to demonstrate that you look after your employees’ general comfort and wellbeing at work by providing adequate toilet facilities and somewhere to rest and eat. You’ll also need to appoint someone to provide first aid if it’s required.
So looking after the health, safety, and welfare of your employees is a legal obligation that not only protects them but protects you too. Failing to put proper health and safety policies and procedures in place can result in accidents and injuries for your employees, and fines and even a jail term for you if it results in a serious incident.
Let’s look at the possible consequences of neglecting health and safety.
Firstly, it increases the risk that work-related ill-health, injury, or death will occur. Illness and injury that occurs at work can impact an employee’s quality of life, and the resulting sickness payments you’ll have to pay out, plus the lost productivity will cost you, dear. Work-related deaths can do untold damage to a company’s reputation, and this can be very difficult to come back from.
Secondly, having a good reputation is essential for business success. Will clients and customers want to do business with a company that doesn’t look after the health and safety of its workers? Will the best people want to come and work for you? The answer is a resounding no.
As well as the effects on your business finances and reputation, there could also be legal repercussions, like hefty legal fees, fines, and even a jail term.
You might think ‘yes, but these are all worst-case scenarios.’ Nevertheless, they are scenarios that can and do occur.
Yet the real damage to your business resulting from not having adequate health and safety policies and procedures in place could be happening every single day.
If your employees feel like they aren’t being protected and they feel unsafe at work, morale will suffer and so will productivity. After all, how do you expect your employees to want to work hard for you if you don’t look after their welfare? Everyone has the right to feel safe when they go to work.
Do you have no idea where to begin when it comes to creating a legally compliant and protected business? Are you struggling to find the time to research and implement contracts and policies, and do you feel you lack the experience to do it on your own?
Maybe you have a chaotic workplace where health and safety aren’t high up on the agenda, even though you know it should be, because near misses often happen and employees don’t feel safe.
I can help.
The basic contracts and policies you need are easy to implement when you know-how, and I can help you put them in place, quickly and simply.
From employment contracts and policies to basic Health and Safety checks, I’ll help you meet the necessary legal and compliance obligations to protect your business.
Here’s what I do:
I work with you as a business owner to understand the values and overall vision of the business which I’ll then share with your employees in a workshop.
I work with employees to establish roles and responsibilities and the behaviours expected of them. I then share bitesize training to talk managers and employees through what is required for Health and Safety, teach them how to carry out a risk assessment, and what they need to do going forward.
Here are the results you can expect:
The policies and contracts I put in place will put your business on a secure footing going forward, and you can rest assured in the knowledge that legal compliance and protection is in place for both your business and your employees.
Your employees will be clearer on the values of your business, and they’ll better understand their responsibilities and what’s expected of them.
I’ll help you create a working environment based on trust and openness, and I’ll support you through visits to your premises and phone calls in between.
Why should you choose me?
I have over 30 years of experience in building teams, managing projects, and implementing contracts and policies.
I also understand exactly what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and not know where to begin, and the conflict between desperately wanting to grow your business and the need for a work-life balance.
Let me take away the stress and help you get your legal basics right.
Give me a call today to find out more!
Read more about what you need when taking on employees