A Basic Health and Safety Guide for New and Small Businesses

The Environmental Health Section of each District Council is responsible for the inspection and enforcement of health and safety law in offices, shops, warehouses, hotels and most leisure activities.

Health and safety affects employers, employees, the self-employed and anybody affected by work activities including members of the public.

  • Health and Safety Policy Statement
    Employers having five or more staff must have a written health and safety policy. This policy must include a statement of commitment to health and safety, the organisation structure including responsible persons and the policy arrangements. This statement must be brought to the attention of all employees and should be signed, dated and periodically reviewed by the employer.

    Guidance: Writing a Safety Policy Statement: Advice to Employers

  • Risk Assessment
    Under the Management of Health and safety at Work Regulations 1999 all employers and self employed persons must assess the risks to their workers or any person affected by their business operations. This will involve a careful examination of the business so as to identify any areas which could cause harm to people. A decision is then necessary as to whether enough precautions have been taken and if not, what more can be done to prevent injuries or illness. If you employ five or more staff than all significant findings must be recorded in writing.

    Guidance: Five Steps to Risk Assessment

  • Accident Reporting
    The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) require that certain types of accidents or incidents which occur at work are reported. In the case of a major injury, notification must be made without delay i.e. by fax or telephone, then followed up within 10 days, by a completed accident report form (F2508) (available from HSE Books). In addition, injuries involving members of the public, where hospital treatment is required, and where a member of staff is off for more than three days as a result of an injury, must also be reported.

    Guidance: Everyone's Guide to RIDDOR 95

  • Health and Safety Poster
    The Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations 1989 require every employer to prominently display a poster providing certain health and safety information. The poster "Health and Safety - What you should know" must contain the name and address of your enforcing authority.

    Poster: Available from HSE Books (see below)

  • Hazardous Substances
    Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH) every employer must carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks associated with the use of all substances at work which may be hazardous to health. The Regulations lay down a sensible step by step approach to the identification, evaluation and control of these substances which allows employers with limited expertise to carry out the assessment. However, extremely hazardous substances will require the assistance of a person with additional expertise.

    Guidance: COSHH: A Brief Guide for Employers

  • First Aid
    The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 require you to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to enable first aid to be given to employees if they are injured or become ill at work. An assessment should be carried out to identify first aid needs as each business has its own hazards and as such first aid arrangements should reflect this. Arrangements should include training for appointed persons and first aiders and the formulation of emergency procedures.

    Guidance: First Aid at Work: Your Questions Answered

  • Manual Handling
    The Handling Operations Regulations 1992 require that hazardous manual handling operations are to be avoided so far as is reasonably practicable. Those which cannot be avoided must be assessed and then to use the assessment to identify whether there is a problem, where it lies and how it may be resolved.

    Guidance: Getting to Grips with Manual Handling

  • Electricity at Work
    The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 place a duty on employers and the self-employed to ensure that electrical equipment and the installation is suitable for the purpose intended and is maintained in a safe condition so as to prevent danger.

    Guidance: Maintaining Electrical Equipment in Offices and Low-Risk Environments

  • Workplace Conditions
    The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 lay down specific requirements so as to provide acceptable workplace conditions. These include ventilation, lighting, temperature, cleanliness, room dimensions and general safety and welfare requirements.

    Guidance: Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare: A Short Guide for Managers

  • Workplace Registration
    Under the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Acts 1963 you just register your business with the Local Authority if you intend to employ any persons or persons. However there are certain exemptions from registration, most notably being when the sum total of hours worked by all employees does not exceed 21 hours per week or if all employees are direct family members. The registration form, OSR1, should be completed and returned to this office prior to the employment of staff

  • Further Reading A publication titled "Essentials of Health and Safety at Work" comprehensively outlines the obligations to employers for the above topics and includes many others which may also be relevant.
  • The above mentioned guidance and other more comprehensive guidance leaflets on each of the topics covered above are available from:

    HSE Books
    PO Box 1999
    CO10 6FS

    Telephone: 01787 881165
    Fax: 01787 313995

    About the author:
    Copyright 2001 Compliant Solutions Ltd. Compliant Solutions provides bespoke compliance solutions for both business and regulatory challenges for your UK financial services company.

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