Health and Safety for SMEs – What you need to know!

Did you know that if you run a business and have five or more employees you are legally required to have a written health and safety policy?

If you are a business owner, here’s the low down on what you need to know …

Preparing a health and safety policy needs to be in three parts

  • A statement of intent from the business demonstrating its commitment to health and safety.
  • Health and safety responsibilities for both the employer and employees.
  • Health and safety arrangements which detail how you protect your employees and others. This includes; information about fire and emergency, first aid arrangements, accident reporting, work activities, welfare arrangements.

Managing the risks in your business

  • A written general risk assessment is another legal requirement if you have five or more employees.
  • The risk assessment needs to identify the risks in your business, who might be harmed and how you control those risks. The findings need to be recorded and reviewed at least annually.
  • Some risks will need to be assessed in greater detail and will therefore need a specific assessment, for example; working with display screen equipment (PCs, laptops etc.), working at height, manual handling (lifting and carrying), running events, handling chemicals, homeworking.

Consulting with your employees

  • Businesses need to make sure they consult with all employees. This needs to include talking and listening about their work activities and the risks involved and providing them with information and training about working safely.
  • Consultation can either be directly with each employee (for a small business) or, via a health and safety representative in larger business.

Information and training

  • Everyone who works for you needs to know how to work safely. They need to have the necessary information and adequate training to complete the tasks.  For example, if one of the tasks is lifting and carrying, employees need to know how it should be done safely and without risk, to prevent injury and ill health.
  • Employees also need to have access to the health and safety law poster or pocket card which outlines health and safety laws and relevant contact details.

Getting it right

  • A business owner needs to appoint someone competent to help meet the necessary health and safety duties. Competency includes skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.  If you are not confident to manage all the requirements in-house you may need some external help or advice.


If you would like further information about how to manage health and safety in your business please call 01903 688789 or email and we’d be happy to help.

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