Small Business and the Health & Safety System
Does My Small Business Need A Health & Safety System?
For small businesses, establishing a health & safety system early is essential.
- Even a small business owner has a health & safety Duty of Care.
- Just because a business is small it’s not immune to the hazards that can kill or maim.
- Even a solitary worker’s life is just as valuable to him and his circle of family and friends as each worker on a large workforce.
- Members of the public can initiate court actions for negligent or unsafe work practices. Even small businesses usually work for and around the public.
- The early stages of growth are the best times to put into place your policies and procedures. It’s better to get in early rather than to scramble around when a crisis has already occurred.
When using a health & safety management system, like Simple WorkSafe, there may not be a need to use every facility.
However, the basics of health & safety management will still be required.
These will become even more important if your business is involved in any high-risk activity.
A business such as a high-rise window cleaning contractor may only have two workers, the owner and one employee.
However, the work being carried out will still require a Safe Work Method Statement, Risk Assessments and Safe Operating Procedures.
Each of these may be different for each job the business carries out.
Only One Worker?
The worker, even if there’s only one, will need training and will probably be required to hold some certification. They’ll also need their competency to carry out the job verified.
Equipment will need to be serviced and maintained. Proving that equipment was regularly maintained is incredibly helpful if equipment failure causes an accident.
An informal chat over coffee between worker and owner can be a toolbox talk or safety meeting. Addressing problems and finding solutions can be the result of very informal meetings or chats.
Keep records of these meetings.
If there is a need for the worker to seek compensation, the incident details leading up to the event are helpful.
The bankruptcy of a one worker business could easily follow if they must suffer;
- fines caused by ineffective health & safety systems.
- increased compensation insurance premiums
- medical fees
- hiring and retraining of new staff
- costs of supporting injured worker while not working
Not to mention the non-financial costs of;
- mental stress of knowing your worker was hurt when you could have prevented it
- endless communication with insurance companies
- loss of credibility with potential clients if court action were to proceed
- mental cost of selecting and training a new worker
A small business may view the initiation of a health & safety system as “time-consuming” and a low priority. However, good management is not an essential trait of large business only. It’s good management that is usually the power behind business growth.
Attending to health & safety is not only proper management; it’s also necessary to avoid court action.