Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Health and Safety Executive Reveals Mistakes That Small Businesses Make In Compliance Attempts

Brought to you by our friends at Concierge Legal Services Ltd

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently issued a news release directed to small business owners and their employees. The press release aims to target those companies who are incorrectly dealing with health and safety within their organisations. Some measures taken by companies have been deemed as “bizarre and unnecessary” by HSE, and they have published a few examples to help other businesses to figure out how to properly comply with health and safety.

What have small businesses been doing wrong?
The fact that businesses are trying to comply with health and safety laws and guidelines is of course to be commended, but time and money can be wasted by doing it incorrectly. After carrying out a survey, HSE shared that one business “completed a risk assessment for using a tape measure” and another “introduced written guidelines for walking up stairs”.

How can these mistakes be rectified?
HSE recommends that small and medium sized employers use its free online tools and guidance. They have a section online called H&S ABC which is designed to be an easy guide for getting the basics right. The idea is that business owners will be able to achieve the right level of risk management, as it seems that many are unsure as to what this should be. In line with this theory, nearly a third of small businesses have said that they are “aware they have to take some action but unsure where to start or if what they are doing is correct.”

What myths can be avoided?
Some companies just follow the advice of others, meaning they can end up doing things wrong - kind of like copying off someone’s test paper at school only to find out you could have done it better yourself. Common myths include needing to hire a specialist consultant when it comes to health and safety; one in five people believed they were not capable of managing this themselves and sourced an external person to help. Eleven percent of people who answered the HSE survey thought that they needed a qualified electrician to test appliances including kettles and toasters each and every year - this isn’t actually necessary.

Next steps for small businesses
Kate Haire of HSEs small business team says: “Health and safety is all about taking steps to manage serious risks of ill-health and injury in the workplace” - and also provides procedures for business when accidents at work happen. She continued by saying: “If something sounds completely unreasonable, more often than not it will be totally unnecessary too.”

The National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, John Allan, spoke on the topic, saying: “The fear factor forces many businesses to adopt unnecessary health and safety procedures which costs time and money.”

To avoid these problems in the future, more research should be done by business owners to clarify what is needed, and what isn’t. Of course, the HSE website is a good place to start, including the resource at http://www.hse.gov.uk/abc/.

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