Written by Julie Sillito from Riverview Solicitors
Monday, 21 May 2012 10:41
Some simple, easy to follow steps for SMEs getting started with health and safety.
Businesses with five or more employees must have a health and safety policy but knowing what to include and how to implement it can be a worry for SMEs.
All employers must have a written health and safety policy if they employ five or more staff. When establishing an appropriate policy, it is important to familiarise yourself with the key legal requirements.
The policy should establish direction and some basic objectives that the business will work towards. It should also include:
• A statement of intent (regarding legal obligations);
• A description of the management organisation in place for implementing the policy;
• Processes and procedures for implementing actions.
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act focuses attention on health and safety management within businesses and fundamentally on managing risks in the workplace, you must therefore ensure that:
• The scope of the policy extends to the full range of your work activities;
• It is endorsed by the most senior person in the business and the policy statement bears their signature;
• You write it down (if the business employs five or more people);
• It is kept up to date by carrying out regular reviews and amending the content when things change;
• It is brought to the attention of anyone who would need to know about it, such as employers, contractors, prospective clients, suppliers, etc;
• You display an up to date copy of the policy statement prominently in all buildings and include it in site inductions so no one is in any doubt about it;
• It commits to meet legal requirements;
• Employees or their representatives are involved in drawing up the policy;
• Where responsibilities are allocated to people, you ensure that they are clear what they are expected to do and are competent to carry the task(s) out;
• Where competent persons are not available, you consider providing training or buying in expertise from outside.
Finally, always remember the following three steps regarding your business’ health and safety:
• Step 1: Create and update
• Step 2: Display and communicate
• Step 3: Review
Step 1: Create and update
Create or amend the existing health and safety policy, involving employees or their representatives.
Remember to check that the health and safety policy includes a commitment to at least meet legal obligations.
Step 2: Display and communicate
Display the policy in all parts of the workplace and bring it to the attention of interested parties, particularly employees.
Check that people given responsibilities know what they are expected to do and that specialist tasks have only been allocated to people who are competent to carry them out, whether employees or contractors.
Step 3: Review
Ensure that the health and safety policy is being regularly reviewed and that it remains appropriate to the scope of the business.
Newer news items:
Older news items: