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Essential Health and Safety Advice for Small Businesses

Essential Health and Safety Advice for Small Businesses

Paperwork (or these days its digital counterpart), is the bane of every small business owner, yet it is a requirement in order to stay on the right side of the law. The good news is that although laws can and do change, those changes tend to be in the nature of incremental developments which revolve around one or two common themes.

In the case of health and safety in the workplace, laws and reporting requirements are typically based around the concept of keeping the workplace safe and/or protecting your employees. This means that no matter where you are, what point in time it is, or what kind of business you run, the same, basic, five steps should keep you on the right side of the law, which the team at Watson and Watson Health and Safety have shared below.

Integrate Health and Safety into Your Everyday Activities

It’s generally easier to keep on top of something by managing it on a “little-and-often” basis rather than waiting until it builds up into a major project and then working out how you’re going to find the resources to tackle it. As an added bonus, looking at health and safety regularly should help you to keep up to date with legislative changes.

Make Training “Bite-size” and Fun

Organizing lengthy training sessions can be a painful experience for all concerned, even if the training is enjoyable, which, let’s be honest, isn’t always the case. It’s often much easier and less stressful to organize “bite-sized” training, which doesn’t even necessarily have to take place in a classroom (or meeting room), for example, you can have posters or computer-based training. Even if you do need to provide face-to-face training, you can do this by means of “quick-fire” sessions. These all cause minimal disruption to everyday work and by giving regular training, you increase the chances of it being remembered.

Use Observation and Common Sense

If you wait for someone to tell you there is a problem, there is a good chance you’ll only find out about it when it’s too late to prevent it. Actively go and check how employees are going about their working day and see what is working well (which might give you ideas as to how to make improvements elsewhere) and what could be a potential issue.

Have Regular Conversations about Health and Safety with Staff of all Levels

Communication is key to just about every walk of life, including health and safety. Staff in more junior positions, who are actually doing the “hands-on” work are more likely to understand the actual practical realities of the job than their supervisors and certainly than more senior managers, however well intentioned they may be.

Motivate Staff to Participate Actively in Health and Safety

Coax staff out of the mentality that health and safety is just something which gets in the way of them doing their actual jobs and help them into a mindset that health and safety is actually something that helps them to do their jobs by keeping them safe while doing it.

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by Peter Watson // Peter Watson is a Senior Health and Safety Consultant for Watson & Watson Health and Safety. Peter is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Safety and Health and a Member of the International Institute of Risk Safety Management.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.