Why a health and safety program is important to small businesses

No matter what type of business you have, accidents can happen, as the workplace exposes people to a variety of dangers that can cause harm. Common hazards include the lifting of heavy objects, use of dangerous machinery, exposure to toxic chemicals, electricity and, in some cases, psychological effects such as stress.

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Last year, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported 1.2 million cases of ill health caused by work, with over 620,000 people injured due to accidents in the workplace. This amounted to 28.2 million working days lost and an estimated cost of £14.2 billion. Even more incidents would occur if health and safety systems weren’t put in place and built up over the years to prevent accidents from happening.

Small businesses are just as prone to accidents, if not more so, as injury rates are known to be higher here than in large companies. This increase is often a result of there not being clear procedures in place due to a lack of health and safety management to answer to, resulting in important and necessary guidelines being overlooked.

The success of a health and safety program in a small business is down to how it’s integrated into a company’s culture and employee behaviour. Health and safety should be regarded in the same light as your business’s key objectives, as reducing the risk of accidents in a work environment makes business sense.

What is a health and safety program?

A system must be created to manage health and safety, and if you employ more than five people, this must be recorded in a written policy showing how you plan on organising, controlling and monitoring preventative measures. You must designate a capable person or people to help with your legal obligation compliance.

Carrying out a risk assessment is key to prevention as it helps you to work out what needs to be done. Although it is a legal requirement, it can be a really useful tool to prove to your employees that you are doing everything in your power to keep them safe while at work. A risk assessment involves identifying potential hazards and working out the potential risk of harm.

Once the dangers have been identified, you must put in place controls to reduce the risk. This can include providing suitable equipment and tools to carry out certain tasks, placing health and safety regulated signs in high-risk areas and installing guards on machinery. As much as putting these procedures in place is important, it is vital that you inform, train and supervise employees and monitor how they work.

Other things to consider in a health and safety program include:

  • Reporting and recording accidents
  • Providing first aid and welfare facilities
  • Having Employers’ Liability insurance
  • Notifying the HSE and local authorities of your existence

For the most part, health and safety programs are a requirement by law. However, they are also a proven tool for aiding a business’s success by increasing staff morale and productivity, as well as reducing costs and the amount of time wasted dealing with health and safety issues.

Article supplied by Safetybuyer

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