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Don't let Health and Safety trip you up!

Health and Safety – three words which can elicit deep sighs of quiet resignation from business owners and operators. It may seem so at times, but “Health and Safety” legislation isn't actually put there to hinder business and state the obvious. As a business owner, you will already know that you owe a duty of care to those you employ. A good dose of common sense goes a long way, but just to make sure that you are following the right path, here are some helpful hints about avoiding mishaps in your workplace.

By law, an employer must 'protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business'. In practice, this means that the first thing to do is carry out a risk assessment of the workplace and carry out any necessary changes to make sure that your premises is safe for both employees and visitors alike.

Hazards – work out what these hazards maybe and who they may affect. You may need to think about trip hazards, chemical spillage, sharp objects or any wear and tear on the building which may need fixing.

The people who may be affected – think about your employees, visitors and tradesmen. Think about the individuals who work for you and may have their own requirements, such as pregnant women or disabled employees, for example.

Making it good – do everything reasonably possible to fix any problems or find a way to control them. Perhaps this could be by providing protective clothing, closing certain areas to the public, finding ways to manage stock and stores – even small items falling from an untidy cupboard can cause a nasty bruise. Involve your staff in this process as they will have advice they can offer and it will also make them realise the importance of the exercise.

Keep on checking – this is an exercise which must be ongoing. You could nominate someone from each department to look at their work environment regularly. This way you learn about your employees concerns as they appear. Alternatively, employ an external Health and Safety advisor who can take care of all of this for you.

Write it down – Record your findings. This is not a legal obligation unless you have more than five employees, but it is a sensible thing to do. Include things you want to improve in the future as this sets you a goal.

Review – Set a date to review your Health and Safety practice. Not all accidents happen in areas of heavy machinery and plant, administrative environments have their fair share of accidents also. By following the government guidelines and taking the time to think about your own individual scenarios in your workplace, you can help to ensure damage-limitation and protect your employees. A really good risk assessment and follow-up can reduce absenteeism, sickness and increase staff retention.

Of course, all the Health and Safety practices in the world will not completely remove people's ability to have accidents in the workplace. They just happen! That is why you need both employers' liability and public liability insurance to cover those events which do happen, whether to staff or to visitors. You need expert advice on the type of insurance to suit your business – whether it includes stock on the premises or perhaps in transit, whether your staff are at any particular risk, etc. Westhill Insurance Service is an independent insurance company with many years experience in the commercial insurance sector. Talk to their friendly and professional team who can advise you on the type of insurance you need to keep your business safe and sound on those occasions when things can unexpectedly trip you up!

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 10th October, 2011