Writing a health and safety plan is essential for your business. Not only does it protect you, any potential employees or apprentices, and any customers who interact with your business, but it’s also the law. 

Government guidelines state that “every business must have a policy for managing health and safety”. While writing down your health and safety plan is only a legal requirement when you have five or more employees, you might want to do so anyway. Having a written health and safety plan for your small business makes it easy to refer to if an issue does occur. 

In this article, we’ll go through:

  • What your policy needs to include
  • Managing risk and your risk-assessment
  • Writing your health and safety plan

What your policy needs to include

There are multiple sections your small business’ health and safety plan needs to include. Each section should help you recognise and minimise any potential risks that may arise at your business. 

Your health and safety policy doesn’t need to be incredibly detailed — a simple overview will be fine. What is important is that your policy, and any changes, is shared with any potential workers you may have. 

Statement of intent

A statement of intent should form the first part of your health and safety plan. This is typically one A4 page, and includes:

  • Your business’ name
  • A clear breakdown of your health and safety policy
  • Your name (signed and printed)
  • The date you signed your name
  • The date you reviewed your policy (after the initial writing)

Responsibilities for health and safety

This section should hold the details of anyone involved in the health and safety of your business — this includes their names, position and roles. It should also state who holds which duties and responsibilities in terms of health and safety.

Arrangements for health and safety

This section should include the details of any arrangements you have regarding health and safety. Arrangements you must consider are:

  • Risk assessment (identifying and reducing risks)
  • Training (teaching staff how to avoid risks)
  • Consultation (discussing health and safety measures with staff/workers)
  • Evacuation (plans and routes to leave premises in case of an emergency)

Managing risk and your risk-assessment

When writing the risk assessment portion, it can be difficult to think of the different risks and how they would affect people in your workspace. By breaking your assessment into sections, you’re more likely to recognise any potential risks and their outcomes. 

Identify the hazards

A hazard is something that could cause harm to a person. This could be anything from a wet floor, to uneven flooring. Hazards can be anywhere and may appear suddenly. It’s impossible to account for every single hazard that could take place, but there should be an effort to prevent or deal with them as they appear. 

You might not always recognise a hazard. To make sure you cover all your bases, it’s best to go through your accident reports. Your reports should list the causes of the accident, and you can use that to identify and minimise any future risk. 

When trying to identify hazards, some important things to consider are:

  • The state of your premises (a dirty, untidy workplace is more hazardous)
  • If any work practices are unsafe (for example, are fire exits blocked or easily accessible)
  • If equipment is being used (how is it being used, and is it carried or moved safely)
  • Whether you own or use any chemicals or substances that could cause harm

Assess the risks

After identifying the hazards, you need to assess the risk they pose. Assessing risk means figuring out the chance a hazard could cause injury and how serious that injury could be. Some points to consider when assessing risk are:

  • Who could get hurt
  • How they could be hurt
  • What you’re currently doing to limit the risk
  • What more you could do to limit the risk

Limit the risks

Ideally, you want to eliminate risks altogether but this isn’t always possible. If you can’t get rid of a risk, the next best thing is to mitigate it. A wet floor sign, for instance, reduces the chance of someone slipping by bringing awareness to the wet floor.

Think about the best ways to remove or reduce the hazards in your premises. Be aware that this can mean changing the layout of your workplace, or how a job is completed. While you’re not expected to completely eliminate every single risk, you must do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. 

If you don’t know the best way to control risks at your workplace, it’s worth checking out the government’s health and safety resources for guidance. 

Record your findings

Once you have found, assessed, and limited potential risks, you need to record them. This is where the ‘Risk Assessment’ section of your health and safety plan comes in. This written portion should provide brief descriptions of the identification, assessment, and limitation of risks. 

If you are unsure of how best to record your findings, the government has plenty of templates and examples available. 

Review

There’s no point in having limits in place if they don’t work — that’s where reviewing comes in. By keeping track of the controls you’ve put in place, you can monitor if they are working or not. 

If certain methods aren’t working, then they need to be changed or adjusted. Every time you make a change, you should also update the risk assessment in your health and safety plan.

Writing your health and safety plan

Your health and safety plan must include the correct information in the relevant sections. As long as you follow the guidelines above, you can write and design your plan to your business’ needs. 

On the other hand, if you don’t want to design your own plan, the government’s health and safety page has a PDF template file you can download and use.

A policy is just one part of the health and safety checklist. It is worth going through the checklist to make sure that you, your business, and everyone else is properly protected.

Minimising your financial risk

The Countingup app can’t help you with health and safety, but it can help you manage and minimise your financial risk. As a business current account with built-in accounting software, Countingup can offer you a clear and accurate picture of your business’ financials.

The receipt capture tool and automatic expense categorisation feature work together to quickly record your business expenses, and file them in HMRC-approved categories. These systems work together to keep your financial records organised, saving you valuable time. 

Start your three-month free trial today.

Find out more here.

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