Do SMEs require Health & Safety?

It’s the responsibility of all businesses to protect the health and safety of their employees, partners, and members of the public. Health and safety laws and regulations apply to businesses of all sizes, including SMEs.

But, when it comes to implementing health and safety rules in the workplace, it isn’t one-size-fits-all. Different businesses require different health and safety procedures. For example, a construction site with hundreds of workers requires different health and safety processes and precautions than a small office.

Companies with fewer than five employees, for example, aren’t legally required to write down a risk assessment or health and safety policy.

No matter how many employees they have, all SMEs must ensure that their employees are protected from any risks that could cause them harm in their day to day activities.

Do I need a health and safety policy?

Every business needs a health and safety policy. A health and safety policy outlines any risks to your workforce or wider members of the public, documenting how these risks will be managed appropriately. The policy is designed to explain to your workforce how these risks will be managed effectively.

The policy will not need to be written down if you have fewer than five employees – but it’s always useful to have it as a written document you can refer back to and share with others.

Appointing a competent person

Regardless of the size of your business, you’ll need to appoint a competent person, or people, to help you meet your legal duties. This can be you, an employee, or someone from outside your business. They don’t need any formal qualifications or training, but they do need the skills and experience to be able to recognise hazards within the business.

Identifying risks

Any hazard that could cause a member of your workforce harm is considered a risk. It’s important that all risks are properly assessed, and the necessary precautions are put in place.

From electrical safety and fire safety, through to working at height risks, slips and trips, and manual handling, there’s a lot to consider.

Is there anything else I need to do?

Consult your staff

Many staff like to be consulted on your businesses’ health and safety policy. It’s important that they are aware of any health and safety risks and that everything is in place to ensure they can work safely, including the right equipment. Their working environment should also comply to all health and safety laws.

Provide training

Each and every employee needs to know how to work safely and minimise risk. You must provide clear information and any required training so they can do their job safely.

Report any accidents and illnesses

However large your business is, you are legally obliged to report certain injuries, near-misses, or diseases to HSE, if they occur in the workplace. If you have more than 10 employees, you are legally required to keep an accident book.

If you’re an SME, get in touch to find out more about your Health and Safety responsibilities.