What you need to run your business safely

28 June 2022, Abigail Miller MCIEH CEnvH, member of EHN’s editorial board and CIEH’s Health & Safety Advisory Group

A person fills in a health and safety risk assessment form

Before starting a business, there are several key considerations that must be made. For instance, what’s its mission and model? What will be your company’s core values? Will you offer remote working? When asking all these questions, one of the most important – will it be safe and how so? – can easily be overlooked.

While we as individuals may make assumptions that enforced regulations will ensure businesses always remain healthy and safe, £26.9 million* in fines were issued to organisations found guilty of health and safety offences in 2020/21, only reinforcing the reality that this isn’t always the case.

Here we outline how businesses can best begin to ensure that their organisation and the environment in which it operates is compliant with both health and safety law and best practice.

A health and safety policy

It is a legal requirement under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 that where more than 5 people are employed the business has a written policy for managing health and safety. This must outline who within the organisation will manage health and safety processes, what those processes are and how and when they must be implemented.

Here the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provide examples and templates of policies to utilise, outlining a three-part process to ensure that your policy encompasses all necessary considerations.

Regular risk assessments

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, it is also required by law that organisations protect their employees and other stakeholders from harm by identifying causes of injury or illness in the workplace, evaluating the associated risks and taking action to control, if not eliminating it.

Again, where more than 5 people are employed the risk assessment must be recorded.

Within the risk assessment an organisation should consider:

  • The individual/group that might be harmed
  • How the individual/group may be harmed
  • What controls are in place to control the risk
  • What further action is needed to control the risk
  • Who needs to carry out the action
  • When the action is needed to be implemented

An example and templates provided by the HSE can be found here.

Employee involvement

Developing a health and safety culture within an organisation will prove paramount to maintaining the highest of safety standards. Not only are employees often those most knowledgeable of the workplace and the working environment, but by involving them in health and safety processes and decisions you are demonstrating that their health and safety is being taken seriously.

Organisations must consult employees about the role of health and safety in the performance of their daily tasks, while also informing them of how any risks are being controlled. This consultation process should be two-way to allow employees to raise any concerns and support with any decisions in managing health and safety, including training provision.

You might choose to do this individually and or collectively in the form of a health and safety committee or forum.

Training and information provision

Your risk assessments and consultation process should have helped you identify and evaluate training needs and what information, instruction and training is necessary to provide a safe working environment.

Here at CIEH we provide comprehensive training solutions across various elements of environmental health, including online food, workplace and health and safety training as well as a range of work-based training courses.

For support on how you and your team can ensure compliance, and for tailor-made solutions that suit your organisations’ unique needs, explore our training opportunities and courses.

Don’t forget to record details of all training you deliver and follow up with refreshers as required.

Report accidents and injuries

It is a legal requirement under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) that the organisation reports some specified accidents and injuries to the HSE.

There is also a requirement for companies with more than 10 employees to maintain a record of all accidents – this can be either hardcopy or electronically and should be kept for a minimum of three years.

Even if you have less than 10 employees it is still good practice to do so as it will help you to analyse trends when assessing accidents, injuries and how to better manage risk in the workplace. It will also provide details if required for any claims.

The following details should be recorded:

  • Date and time on which the accident/incident occurred
  • The name and contact details of the person who was injured, including age if they are a minor
  • Name and contact details of any witnesses
  • The type and nature of the injuries sustained
  • The cause and full circumstances of the accident – a detailed investigation will help you prevent a reoccurrence

Here, the HSE provide guidance on how to make a report to them.

N.B. you must ensure this data is kept securely as it comes under the data protection legislation. Some older type accident books allow people completing to see previous accidents and it is important that this information is only made available to those that have a legitimate reason to view it.

It is paramount that organisations make clear considerations for all of the above when it comes to starting, developing and managing their operation. Alongside getting the necessary insurance to protect it from potential incidents, consideration should also be given to first aid at work and the provision of safe workplace facilities.

Here at CIEH we have been driving standards and sharing best practice in health and safety in the workplace for over 130 years. If you’re looking to find out how we can support your organisation in doing safer and better business, then please do not hesitate to contact us on +44 (0)20 7827 5800.



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