Safety at Work: A Guide for Small Business Owners

As a business owner, you have a duty to protect your employees. Risk assessment and hazard prevention are required by law to be carried out in all workplaces, and as head of the company it’s down to you to make sure that these two procedures are carried out.

Carrying Out Risk Assessment

There are many risks and hazards which can occur in the workplace, so your first duty should be to acquaint yourself with all of them, and know how to recognise them both before and as they occur. Common workplace hazards include:

  • Wet or uneven surfaces.
  • Combustible materials.
  • Improperly installed electrical equipment.
  • Tools or equipment being used incorrectly.
  • Mislabelled products.

The type of risks which can occur in the workplace are often dependent upon what type of environment you are dealing with. For example, an office worker who is sat down all day is more at risk of developing eye strain or migraines than someone who spends much of their time outside. Conversely, someone who works with heavy machinery is much more likely to suffer a serious injury. To properly assess your workplace for hazards, it’s important to take as many different factors into account as you possibly can.

Preventing Accidents

Prevention is better cure, as the old saying goes. This is especially true when it comes to risk prevention in the workplace, as this will ensure that you are protecting both your employees from harm and yourself from litigation.

Once you’ve carried out your workplace risk assessment, you should be well aware of the potential hazards to your employees. Prevention works best when all of your employees are aware of their own responsibilities, so working closely with your staff, or with HR, will help you to put measures in place to prevent accidents from happening. Common sense will usually dictate the best way to carry out this duty. For example:

  • Electrical wires should not trail on the floor.
  • Fire doors should be fully accessible and smoke ventilation systems installed where necessary.
  • All employees should be trained in manual handling.
  • Tools and equipment should be stored properly, and the correct training given on how to use them.

There are many guides for carrying out workplace risk assessments and accident prevention procedures, so if you’re a small business owner who wants to make their workplace safer, it’s highly recommended that you seek out and implement as much of this information as possible.