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These are some of the most common questions we get asked, so we have decided to add this page to help people gain a better understanding of what is required from a small business owners point a view.
OK first off, there are many requirements that a small business must adhere to. Not only to comply with legislation but also you should think from a moral standpoint.
The good news is that complying with legislation and working above the minimum recommended standards will not only keep you legal but you will find many other benefits such as staff should be happy and content that they are working for an employer who cares for their well-being, working practices that in the long run should be more efficient and productive, you should find once you can tick all the boxes regarding health and safety you may be more attractive to potential clients who are looking for a responsible business to work with and of course less future legal issues.
Depending on your type of business and how many employees you have there are numerous variations in legislation that could effect you. We will just highlight the main and most common areas for now but if you are worried that you have a specialised type of business that require special legislation then you can always contact us for help and current legislation in your area.
OK so assuming you have a small typical type business with 5 or more employees these are just some of the things you will need to address.
Please note this list is by no means exhaustive and as we all know legislation can change at a moments notice and is always being improved.
Employers liability insurance.
Yes It is a legal requirement if you employ anyone and you should also have the certificate on display, Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance Act 1969.
Health and safety law poster.
You need to put up this poster somewhere that is accessible and visible to all of your employees. You can if you prefer supply your employees with a leaflet individually called “Health and Safety Law: what you should know.
You should have an accident book to record accidents and near misses.
Health and safety policy.
If you have 5 or more employees you need to have a written health and safety policy. This will have several main sections.
This should include a general statement that should be signed and dated. It will have to state company and employee responsibilities and who is responsible for doing what.
Health and safety risks and what measures need to be taken to eliminate or reduce these risks.
Consultation with employees, who represents the employees and who will provide the consultation.
Safe plant and equipment highlighting who is responsible for providing maintenance and repairs and other procedures, Who purchases new equipment and so on.
Substance handling, Who is responsible for identifying, safe handling and use of hazardous substances.
Who is responsible for producing and reviewing COSHH assessments and informing employees.
You need to identify hazards and eliminate or at least reduce risks to anyone who may be involved or effected buy your working activities.
You also needs to document your findings and describe actions to be taken.
These assessments also need to be reviewed regularly.
As you probably guessed this list keeps on getting larger as legislation and new technologies change.
We will check back often to add more to this page.
We would suggest however if you would like an up to date specific list of what your company may need why not use the contact form at safetyexpert.info and give us a brief description of what you do, we will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
We have recently had an enquiry from a small builder in the west midlands who needed some help with winning some bigger contracts and not just private building work for small house extensions and refurbishment’s.
He was confident that his company could supply very high quality building and maintenance services as he has acquired various glowing reviews from happy clients over the many years he has been in business.
The main problem was this builder couldn’t get on the preferred suppliers list of some of the big main contractors even though he has over 40 years combined experience within his company. Now as he stated “if you are not on the preferred suppliers list then you can not submit a quote for any project they may be involved in.”
“Please note we understand that there are many rouge builders out there who prey on home owners and rip people off. Theses cowboy builders will not be able to get on main contractors lists for good reason!”
This creates a standard across the board and you may notice quite often is the case that if you’re a small builder you may get stuck completing small contracts and never be able to move up the ranks to the big jobs no matter how good you may be.
So what is the problem?
We soon discovered that this is normally due to meeting specific criteria with company policies (we are not just talking about health and safety policies here).
As many of you may know if you want to work for one of the big boys in the construction industry you firstly contact the company expressing interest and then wait for the dreaded pre contract questionnaire.
For those not in the know this is a quiet hefty document (varies in size depending on main contractor!) that has to be filled out by your company answering a multitude of questions.
Some examples are:
Does your company have a health and safety policy (please attach a copy).
Does your company have an environmental policy (please attach copy)
Does you company have an equal opportunities policy (please attach copy)
Does you company have an anti harassment policy (please attach copy)
Please state when above policies were updated and how often they are reviewed.
Who has total responsibility for health and safety within your company (please state qualification)
Please include 5 past risk assessments and method statements from relevant work completed within the last six months.
Does your company conduct health and safety meeting and how often are they held?
Please include copies of minutes from the last three health and safety meetings.
And so on…..
The above is just a snippet of a pre contract questionnaire and as you can imagine some of these go on for twenty plus pages.
Please remember if you are lucky enough to get past this stage with flying colours you are only on the approved sub contract list to submit your prices. You are not guaranteed any work.
A small builder could pay thousands of pounds just to get on this list with no guarantee of any work.
The problem is the same questionnaire is sent indiscriminately to builders with five employees as to multinationals who can afford several thousand in consultancy fees.
So there is quite a big jump to go from small contractor up to playing with the big boys thus you usually find the smaller builder tends to continue completing smaller jobs due to lack of funds to meet specified criteria.
Is there a happy ending?
Yes on this occasion our aforementioned builder got in touch with us through http://www.safetyexpert.info and expressed that he would not be beat! He wanted to better his company and progress higher up the ranks. So he sent us the complete details of what he needed to achieve and stated that his budget was just £600.00 asking if this was possible?
It was! We set him up with all the documentation, processes, strategies and advice he needed to not only secure a safer and more productive way to work but to admit him into the higher reaches he desired.
Needles to say we had a confirmation E-mail from him last week stating not only did he get on the requested proffered sub contractor list but he won the job that will earn him 4 times as much as any previous single contract.
This is the first installation of what we hope will be many helpful hints and tips of how to get your small to medium sized business up and running with your health and safety systems.
We have decided to make an easy to use and easy to understand site regarding everything health and safety.
This site will be most useful throughout the United Kingdom but will also be a wealth of information and help throughout Europe, North America and the world.
We will be adding new content at regular intervals and alerting you all to new legislation and regulations they may affect your business.
As we are seeing a slight rise in new business start ups in the UK since the recession, we feel it to be a good time to provide help and guidance to make your new venture run as smooth as possible.
We are all hoping that there is now light at the end of this long and drawn out downturn and are confident that new start-up businesses will steadily continue to increase as time passes.
Please keep checking back for regular updates as they will be plentiful, regular and full of useful information that you will be able to implement into your new business.
Our main goal “as often is most companies” is to keep you and your workers healthy and safe, but also help you understand your legal requirements without the all so often view of “Has health and safety gone mad?”
We will point out what is over the top and not required as well as giving you suggestions and guidelines.
Also we would like to point out this will not be a literary masterpiece as thoughts, feelings and news will be added as and when conceived. This could be in the middle of a journey, from within a meeting or a revelation at 2am.
The point is we will keep you updated with easy to follow information as we can.