As your small business grows, it’s easy to forget about some of the basics.
When staff numbers keep growing and profits increase, your time becomes even more stretched.
Which is when you might start to let some of the smaller things slip, like does your premises still have a suitable number of WCs? Are your staff overloading electricity sockets? Do you have enough first aiders to cover everyone?
Although such examples might seem quite inconsequential, they’re important. Because when something goes wrong, such as an employee suffers an injury with no first aiders available to help, a business risks facing legal action and a damaging penalty fine.
Of course, no employer sets out to put staff at risk. We understand why safety in the work environment is not only important but also essential. We know that if we don’t provide a safe working environment for our employees and for those who use our facilities, the consequences can be devastating. It’s most often just a case of being unaware that a hazard even exists, let alone putting the entire workforce in danger. But when employers find out, it’s often too late.
Small businesses face large fines
If a company has failed in its health and safety obligations, then large fines will result.
Financial penalties rose sharply from February 2016 with the introduction of new sentencing guidelines; the aim was to try to ensure employers take greater care and undertake their responsibilities more seriously.
A fatality or a serious accident now doesn’t even have to occur at a workplace under the new guidelines for considerable penalties to kick in.
In 2017/18 businesses were fined £72.6m for health and safety offences. Fines worth £1m or more for breaches of health and safety legislation have become the “new norm” within the UK. According to solicitors Clyde & Co, there were 19 cases with fines exceeding £1m imposed by the courts in the 12 months to October 31 2018.
Reading up on health and safety legislation is time-consuming
The work of compliance is a minefield, with new and updated regulations constantly coming into effect and regularly causing a headache for businesses, especially for smaller firms that don’t have the capacity or budget to employ a dedicated employee to manage health and safety. With this in mind, the benefits to be gained from outsourcing to experts are immense. Outsourcing health and safety to a qualified expert frees up your time to focus on your core activities.
Health and safety compliance is a legal requirement but beyond the scope of most small businesses to hire a full-time compliance officer. Outsourcing health and safety provides expert help on an as-and-when basis. A qualified outsourced expert may point out risks you were unaware of, shutting down possible legal action. Planning and pre-empting massively reduces risk.
A competent consultancy can also offer access to a collective pool of expertise from a team of qualified professionals at a touch of a button. Other outsourcing health and safety services that should be expected include routine visits and the completion of policies and other important documents that would otherwise have to be written in-house.
Employees need to be trained
Even if you are on top of employment law, every piece of legislation requires you as an employer to provide your workforce with appropriate information, training and supervision. This isn’t an option, it’s a legal requirement – no matter how small the business. However, this is often overlooked as an obligation, leaving your business open to accidents, legal action and reputation damage.
A health and safety specialist consultancy will be able to offer bespoke training courses, guaranteed to be hosted by experts covering a selection of specific topics to ensure legal requirements are met.
5 questions to ask if you need to outsource health and safety
- Do you employ a competent person who helps you meet current health and safety standards?
- Do you have a written health and safety policy statement setting out your company’s approach to ensure the safety of your employees? Any company with more than five employees needs to have one.
- Has your small business carried out suitable and sufficient risk assessments in relation to all significant sources of harm (hazards) arising from its activities, and recorded the results?
- Does your company have arrangements in place to report accidental injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) and keep records?
- Has your company assessed the capabilities and training needs of all employees with regard to health and safety and provided adequate health and safety training?
If the answer is no to any of the above, you may not be fully legally compliant, and outsourcing could be hugely beneficial and the next logical step.
How much does outsourcing health and safety cost?
Peninsula health and safety offers:
- Bespoke documentation, policies and handbooks
- 24-hour advice with crisis and incident support
- Health and safety software platform
- E-learning training
- Annual review and risk assessment training
- Optional insurance
Remember, it’s paramount that health and safety isn’t taken lightly or seen as optional expenditure. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places general health and safety duties on the employer and the consequences of not complying with regulations can be devastating, so it’s crucial businesses, including SMEs, cover themselves.