There are a lot of practical steps that must be taken when launching a start-up. One of the most important things you need to do as a business owner is to draft and implement a well thought out health and safety policy. This should be written in compliance with health and safety laws and the best practice within your industry.
The content and extent of your health and safety policy will depend on the size and type of work your start-up will be doing. You should begin with the Statement of Intent, which should detail the overarching goals of your health and safety policy. Then you will need to document the steps you will take, and the people in charge of ensuring the policy is appropriately enacted.
Start With Your Intentions
The Statement of Intent is the first part of three main sections of a business health and safety policy. The other sections are Responsibilities and Arrangements, as we will discuss below. Your Statement of Intent should detail the reasons for creating the safety policy and the objective and aims of the policy. You could consider your Statement of Intention as you would the introduction of an essay, stating for the reader what you are about to discuss in more detail.
Appoint And Name The People In Charge Of Health And Safety
Next in your health and safety policy, you will need to appoint and name the people in charge of various areas of safety at work, known as the Responsibility section. This should include someone with overarching responsibility and people in charge of more specialised areas such as first aid and fire safety as well as Fire Watch Security. Usually, the person in charge of the overarching responsibility will be you or another high-level member of your team.
Carry Out A Risk Assessment
To understand the steps you’ll need to take for your health and safety policy, you will need to do a risk assessment. This makes up part of your Arrangements section and helps you identify potential hazards and risks that may be associated with your business. You should consider common risks as well as rarer possible issues, factoring in the specific risks that come from your industry and the work being done in your business. Highlighting the dangers will allow you to take the necessary safety measures to mitigate such risks. This could include displaying caution signs to warn of wet floors or reversing vehicles, or purchasing lifting equipment to aid with heavy lifting.
Train Your Staff
While there will be a set few staff members that are in charge of specific elements of health and safety at work, it is still crucial to prepare your team for their roles in keeping the business safe. You should ensure that all team members are appropriately trained in using the different equipment such as dry chemical extinguishers located onsite and host regular fire drills to ensure disaster readiness.
The extent you train your team to will often depend on the severity of the risk they may face at work. For instance, exclusively office-based staff will need a lower level of safety training than staff working on a warehouse floor with heavy inventory.
Provide Standards For Equipment
Your health and safety Arrangements section should detail the standards required for any workplace equipment used. You should ensure that all workplace equipment and supplies are sourced from reputable manufacturers and suppliers and offer the best quality and functionality. For an idea of the type of retailers to look for that prioritise health and safety in the workplace, check out the experts at The Workplace Depot.
Issue Copies Of The Policy To Employees
Every employee in your business should be given a copy of the health and safety policy to review. Some companies even use short quizzes to ensure that employees have read and understood the policy and the responsibilities they have.
Use Safety Signage
Safety signs can be an excellent way to remind employees of their responsibilities in the event of hazardous events and ensure they know who is qualified to provide the help they may need. For instance, you could place safety posters up with the details of the first aiders on site and ensure they are displayed prominently. This poster could also include basic instructions on how to begin first aid until a qualified person arrives.
Understand The Laws And Regulations
When drafting any health and safety document, it is crucial to understand the laws and regulations for employers in general and the specific rules of your industry. You should do your homework before writing your policy and ensure that you fully understand your responsibilities. If in doubt, it may help to hire a compliance officer who will have the knowledge and expertise to ensure you comply with health and safety laws.
Review The Policy Regularly
Once your policy is complete, you should avoid letting it gather dust for years before reviewing it. It is best to review your policies frequently, with many businesses reviewing and amending their policies on a quarterly or even monthly basis. As a new business, this will give you the opportunity to learn and grow, finessing your policy over time. You should always provide an updated copy to your employees whenever you amend your policy.