Small Businesses often take a more relaxed approach to procedures in their business – including safety training. With this in mind, the authority in the UK on occupational health and safety issues, the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), have identified them as a hard to reach group and are specifically targeting SMEs to make sure the safety training, knowledge and management in their business both meets the legal requirements and also is working hard to reduce the risk of an injury in the work place.
Small businesses are ruled under exactly the same legislation as other businesses in the UK, the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974. This Act places the duty on employers, the self-employed and those managing a team of people to ensure the safety and welfare of employees while at work. The regulations surrounding health and safety in the UK have gradually expanded ever since the introduction of the Act in 1974 and there are specific guidelines to cover anything and everything related to occupational safety – from working in confined spaces to working at height. Failure to conform to the legislation can lead to a hefty fine from the authorities and if someone is harmed in the workplace and it is deemed to be caused by negligence on the companies behalf, organisations can find themselves facing a hefty lawsuit.
There are a number of actions involved in a health and safety management system of a business. From looking at hazards and carrying out risk assessments, properly managing and maintaining machinery and equipment used in the workplace and also giving staff members and workers safety training so that they understand how they are expected to work, and to ensure their awareness of the hazards they face in the workplace. Unfortunately for those working in the health and safety environment no one site, building or organisation is the same, which means that there is no set template for health and safety.
The preconception of health and safety and safety training is that it is complicated, time-consuming and costly. However, in reality, if it is done properly and the correct procedures are in place it can be a very simple process to manage. The advantage of a small business when it comes to health and safety is that because of their size unnecessary complications are taken out of the picture, there are less staff members who need safety training, and the smaller work environment will probably mean that there are less hazards to account for. In a small business, it’s a simpler process to make every person on site aware of the risks they may face while at work.
One important point that the HSE encourages is consultation between staff members and managers about health and safety and the training in place in the work environment, they are, after all, those who are directly working with the hazards identified. An open dialog with your staff allows you to control and improve your health and safety system. They may suggest extra safety training needed, areas where they feel their knowledge is lacking or other points where they feel the business’ health and safety policy lets them down. All in all this can really help to tighten and improve your health and safety system.
There are two main types of safety training your small business will need. Firstly internally it is important that your staff members understand your safety policy, how to react in an event of an emergency, how to report potential risks and this understanding leads to a safer work environment. The second area is external health and safety training. This generally involves a specialist training company who will have experience and knowledge about safety in the workplace. With an external safety training company there is the possibility of taking accredited and recognised certificates which will add to the safety knowledge of your staff. These qualifications prove that you are taking health and safety seriously in your business, and also will make your staff feel valued, which often leads to increased productivity.
Safety training may get a bad press, but it really is worthwhile. With a thorough understanding of safety training and guidelines, your workplace will be a healthier and happier place to work.
Bio: Britannia Safety and Training are leading providers of safety training near Norwich, Norfolk. Their industry experienced trainers know how to put the theory into practice and the state of the art training venue with over 6000m2 of space is custom built for purpose.