Health and Safety Tips for the self-employed

Health and Safety Tips for the self-employed

On Day 3 of our 12 Days of Trade we are looking at health and safety. We have spoken to health and safety expert, Katie Hughes from Sure Safety, and asked her to give us her top 6 handy health and safety tips for the self-employed: 

Firstly, what is health and safety? 
'Health and safety' is how we manage the risks that may occur from what we do and where we do it. You are responsible for preventing any harm that may come to you, your employees or your customers when carrying out your duties, ensuring that everyone makes it home safely every day. 

Here are my top tips on how to make sure that happens. 

Create a Health and Safety policy

Legally, every business needs a Health and Safety Policy. There is a misconception that if you have less than five employees you do not need an H&S policy. You do! You just do not have to write it down. However, I would always recommend writing down your H&S policy.

This gives you the opportunity to really think about H&S within your workplace and set out clearly how you would manage a health and safety issue. The Health and Safety Executive is a fantastic resource for H&S information, including how to create a Health and Safety policy

Carry out risk assessments

We use risk assessments all the time in our day-to-day lives, from driving to deciding whether to take a rain coat out with us. With regards to your business, a risk is a calculation around the likelihood and severity of a hazard causing you, or those around you, harm. For example, if you are using a good quality ladder to work at height, the likelihood of you coming to harm is far less than if you were using an old, broken, and inadequate ladder.

A risk assessment is identifying as many of these risks as possible, detailing how to mitigate those risks, and identifying ways in which to deal with those risks if they should occur. The HSE provides an effective Risk Assessment template to help you get started. We would always recommend that the risk assessment is conducted by someone who is experienced and knows the job inside out as they will have a greater understanding of potential risks and how to resolve them. 

Be aware of the relevant legislations and regulations

There are two key pieces of legislation that you should be aware of - the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Construction ( design and management) Regulations 2015 
(CDM). Both dictate the health and safety protocols you need to be following to ensure your business remains legal. 

I would recommend all commercial clients of Venture Building Plastics to be aware of the CDM Regulations. These define what 'construction work' is and it may surprise people to know that occupations such as painting and decorating and maintenance - both domestic and commercial - are classed as 
'construction'. As such, these professions must adhere to the CDM Regulations with regards to health and safety. If you're unsure if you fall within this category, have a look at the HSE website which will hopefully clarify it for you. 

Do a first aid course 

During your risk assessment you may have identified the need to do a first aid course to keep both you and your employees safe. However, even if you have not identified this need, we would still recommend - if you have the time and the budget - doing a course. This can be the emergency first aid at work course, which is only one day as opposed to the three-day full first aid course, or an online course. 

Whichever you choose, doing a first aid course can only benefit you and your business.

Remember to declare your health and safety policy to your business insurer

As well as ensuring you and your employees return home safely from work each evening, health and safety policies and risk assessments may help bring your business insurance premium down. If you can demonstrate you are working within health and safety guidelines and regulations, and can provide a policy, it may help to save you money in the long run. Likewise, if you do not have a health and safety policy it could adversely affect your insurance. 

Be proactive!

This is probably the best advice I can offer! Every business needs 'health and safety', whether that is through hiring a consultant, being part of an industry body that can provide guidance and advice, or simply accessing the HSE resources. Whichever route you choose, do it now rather than after something goes wrong.

Health and safety may seem a lot of hard work, but it is there for a reason. It's to keep you safe so you can go home to your family every day and continue to live a happy life. 

Venture Building Plastics is a trading name of Specialist Building Products Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Epwin Group Plc. Specialist Building Products Limited is registered in England & Wales. Company Registration number: 1268689. Registered Office: Friars Gate, 1011 Stratford Road, Shirley, Solihull, West Midlands B90 4BN. VAT Registration No. 864 4507 10