New business? Here's 5 key questions about Health and Safety

For a start-up business, there is certainly a lot to take on board – from having the correct insurances in place to choosing the right business bank account – so it’s no surprise that things like Health and Safety Policies are often pushed to the back of the queue, red tape and all.

However – legal requirements aside - if you want your customers and employees to take your organisation seriously, a clear and thorough Health and Safety policy is essential.

That said, here are 5 key questions start-ups should consider when thinking about putting a Health and Safety policy into place – no matter what industry sector you operate in:

When will I need a Health and Safety Policy?

Law states that you must have a clear Health and Safety Policy in place once the business employs five members of staff or more. However, the early bird always catches the worm, right? So why not work on this as soon as you get your business off the ground? That way you won’t be panicking as you approach that magic employee number.

What should I include?

According to The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, all employers should assess and manage risks to their employees and members of the general public, which could potentially occur from work related activities.

This means that your Health and Safety policy should include a thorough assessment of workplace risks, with clear detail on how employees will be protected. In creating your policy you should also review all potential risks, and assess how these can be managed or eliminated.

How often should I review my Health and Safety policy?

Once your Health and Safety policy has been prepared and drafted by you, the business owner, it should be circulated to all staff and reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it remains up to date. This is particularly important if your business undergoes significant changes, such as a move in premises or the implementation of new operational systems.

What’s important here, is that your policy is communicated effectively to all staff members from the outset and is sustainable for the long term.

How can my policy help employees handle workplace risks?

All employees should have access to your written Health and Safety policy, together with any relevant information about workplace risks. This includes clear instructions and training on how employees need to deal with all risks, together with the implementation of protective and preventative measures.

What additional policies do I need in place?

If you work in an office, the chances are potential hazards, risks and health and safety requirements are going to be a lot more manageable than if you have started your own building firm. However, wherever your commercial premises or whatever your industry sector, you should still have a basic Health and Safety policy in place, together with a number of additional documents including an Accident Book and Employer's Liability Compulsory Insurance, for example.

Need a few pointers?

Reading this and feel completely out of your depth? Here at e-Careers, we’re sure you’re not alone, which is why we have many Health and Safety courses available to help you see the wood through the trees – from accredited NEBOSH certificates to First Aid, Allergies Essentials and How to Write a Risk Assessment.

For more details, you can also contact our Training Experts on 0203 198 7700.