With the ever-evolving laws and legislation of modern times, it can be hard to keep up with what the latest requirements, especially those regarding health and safety. Time-consuming and complicated, legislation can often be difficult to understand -and with Brexit looming, bringing with it the uncertainty of the future, you’d be forgiven for feeling that matters of health and safety can often feel muddy, particularly for small businesses.
But however much hassle it can be, the risks of not being compliant go much further than just negative publicity. Consequences can include everything from fines and compensation payments to the closure of business, and in extreme cases even prosecution.
With that in mind, it’s important to ensure your business is aware of all current and upcoming legislation within your sector. Here, Alex Dalton at Daltons Wadkin shares his top tips on how to keep your small business up to date with all things health and safety.
1. Subscribe to industry newsletters and podcasts
One of the easiest ways to stay up to date with the latest changes is by signing up to industry newsletters. This is where you’re most likely to get wind of upcoming changes first, and you’ll get it straight to your email inbox. Take a look at some of the leading publications and industry voices in your sector – chances are they’ll have a regular (and free) newsletter you can subscribe to.
Podcasts are another informative way of getting the lowdown on the law. Many have episodes on specific health and safety issues, and you can listen while you’re on the go.
2. Visit the HSE website
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website is a comprehensive resource hub of everything you need to know about (you guessed it) – health and safety. They provide free guidance and advice for businesses in all kinds of industries, and their website features everything from first aid info to risk assessments. They can even help you with writing your health and safety policy.
3. Ask your employees
There’s no better way to get an understanding of your current standing than by speaking with the people on the ground. The people you employ will likely be more aware of matters of health and safety than you are, and if they have concerns to voice, there’s a good chance you need to revisit the latest legislation.
They also might have picked up important pieces of information through media sources or via word of mouth, so maintaining a good dialogue with your staff is essential.
4. Regularly review your existing policy
Just as legislation is constantly being revisited, so should your health and safety policy. By treating it as something ongoing, you’re less likely to fall behind when new laws come into place. Aim to review your policy once a year at least, or whenever your business makes significant changes, such as changing work procedures, creating new positions or redesigning your office space.
5. Consider mental health
The emphasis on mental health care permeates many parts of everyday life, and it now plays an important part in the workplace too. The legal obligation of employers to ensure the health and wellbeing of their employees extends to their mental health, so if you don’t have something in your health and safety policy to cover this already, you may want to consider amending it.
6. Attend events
Where you can, try to attend conferences, seminars or webinars where you can learn how to implement new legislation that has come into force. Not only will you be made aware of things that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks, you’ll also learn how to act on it. What’s more, you’ll be surrounded by people in your industry who’ll be able to share their knowledge and experience, as well as any issues they’ve faced.
7. Engage professional advisors
If necessary, you can use the services of professional advisors or a consultancy firm to get your business fully up to date. Although it may incur a high cost in the short-term, the long-term effects will provide potentially massive cost savings, as well as that much-needed peace of mind.
There are many ways in which small businesses can keep atop of health and safety regulations, and it needn’t be as difficult as you fear. As well as ensuring compliance with the law, up-to-date policies will ultimately go a long way in earning the trust and respect of employees and customers alike.