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Blog posts tagged health and safety

Health and safety advice for new businesses

May 02, 2013 by Guest Blogger

Health and safety advice for new businesses/3d first aid box{{}}One of the most important things to consider when setting up your new business, whether it’s accountancy or building, is health and safety. But don’t worry – it doesn’t have to be complex, just be sure to seek professional advice if ever you are unsure about your responsibilities.

Take responsibility

Legally you are obliged to decide exactly who will be responsible for health and safety in your business. Many bigger companies delegate this to an external consultant so that they can concentrate on other things, but new business owners usually accept this task themselves. You must ensure that you or your appointed person is competent to take charge of your health and safety.

Health and safety policy

As a start up you are unlikely to need a written health and safety policy (it’s only required if you have five or more employees), but it wouldn’t hurt to have a written record of the risks you have identified and how they will be handled. No matter what type of business you run, your health and safety policy should describe how you will: 

  • prevent accidents and work-related ill health, and control risks arising from work activities;
  • provide adequate training for all your employees, ensuring they are competent;
  • discuss health and safety conditions with your staff, providing advice and supervision;
  • implement emergency procedures, such as emergency evacuation plans in case of fire.

Risk assessments

Every type of business will present a different set of risks and hazards that could affect its employees, visitors, customers and even those just passing by! For example, a member of the public passing by a window cleaner could be at risk from falling objects if the window cleaner hasn’t properly considered the risk and taken steps to reduce the likelihood of it occurring.

Of course, no one expects you to completely eradicate all risks and hazards. Many of them will be part and parcel of your new business – hazardous tools and electrical equipment are used in every trade and industry, from gardening to hairdressing and construction. But you must be aware of the risks they present and take reasonably practical steps to protect anyone to whom they could present a risk.

Health and safety training

As a new micro business, you’re unlikely to need to delegate the management of your health and safety to others, but if you don’t have the required knowledge or experience to handle it – seek training with a professional and reputable organisation. The additional cost may seem unnecessary – but it will ensure that you fulfil your legal obligations and help keep you, your employees and your customers safe.

This post was written on behalf of Health & Safety Training Ltd

Getting the boring essentials right from the start

April 07, 2010 by Chris Barling

There’s a dilemma when you are starting a company. There are lots of boring essentials like company formation, VAT, Data Protection Act, employment law and, depending on which industry you are in, a host of other legislation. Yet complying with these doesn’t help you to sell anything, build a customer base or most importantly turn a profit.

It’s incredibly difficult to find the balance between being too gung ho about regulations (with risks starting at inconvenience and ending in prison), or over egging things, with a bigger risk of business failure. Hovering around are lots of professional advisers with fees to match - that’s the accountants, lawyers and consultants. Unfortunately it’s hard for them to be entirely impartial as their business is about charging fees.

Here are my top tips for getting this balance right.

  1. First you need to understand the issue. You need to know what laws may apply to you. Books and the web are the cheapest forms of education along with free seminars from Business Link or professional advisers offering free consultations in the hope of getting your business.
  2. Then make sure you stay legal with the minimum of work and elaboration. Remember your principle aim is to serve customers, not produce a gold encrusted employment or health and safety manual.
  3. Be appropriate. If you work in an industry that is potentially hazardous, then actually health and safety is the top priority. If you are selling cuddly toys over the internet, just make sure they don’t contain dangerous substances or harmful parts.
  4. Until you are cash positive, don’t worry about issues that can wait until tomorrow.
  5. Once you know that the business has a future and you can afford it, start employing the professionals to help.

When you’re starting off, anything that isn’t directly related to making sales or pushing the business forward is an irritant. But completely neglecting other issues can cause huge frustration when you are forced to comply; it can also substantially reduce the value of your business or may even cause its demise.
It’s different if you are well capitalised and have had previous business success. But if this is your first start up, then these tips are well worth a thought.

Chris Barling, Sellerdeck

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