Health and safety laws apply to all businesses, no matter how small. As an employer, or a self-employed person, you are responsible for health and safety in your business. You need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of workplace dangers. you must provide a safe working environment.
As an employer, you must appoint a competent person to help you meet your health and safety duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.
You could appoint (one or a combination of):
If you're not totally comfortable with being the 'competent person' then why not leave things to us, so you have more time to spend on running your business. We offer a range of affordable one-off services or packages for businesses of all sizes.
Describing how you will manage your health and safety in your business will let your staff and others know about your commitment to health and safety. This will be your health and safety policy.
If you have five or more employees, you must have a written policy.
A policy will only be effective if you and your staff follow it and review it regularly.
You should use a health and safety risk assessment as the main tool to identify workplace hazards. It will also allow you to put measures in place to control and minimise the hazards and risks you find.
You should find out what your employees and their representatives think about any changes that might affect their health and safety.
Everyone who works for you needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. it's your duty to provide health and safety training and information.
You must provide clear instructions, information and adequate training for your employees. Don't forget contractors and self-employed people who may be working for you.
Make sure everyone has information on:
Every workplace must meet some basic standards of comfort and sanitation. As an employer you must protect the safety and health of everyone in your workplace. This includes people with disabilities.
You must provide welfare facilities and a healthy environment for your employees.
Welfare facilities include toilets that are accessible for disabled employees and visitors, an area to wash, and clean drinking water. You will also need to consider lighting, ventilation and temperature for your employees in their working environment.
You are responsible for making sure that your employees receive immediate attention straight away if they become ill or are injured at work. Therefore, you must have first aid arrangements in your workplace.
As a minimum you at least must have:
If you employ anyone, you must display the health and safety law poster, or provide each worker with a copy of the equivalent pocket card. You must display the poster where your workers can easily read it. You can download a poster, specifically for businesses in Northern Ireland by clicking here.
You might think as a self-employed person you don't need to worry about health and safety. After all, you're just looking after yourself. But since you're the only person doing the work, it's extra important to stay safe and healthy. If you employ or put others at risk, the law applies.
As a self-employed person, like everyone else, you will have a duty of care. This is a common law responsibility, and it is outside and on top of health and safety laws. The duty of care applies to everyone, so it's important to be aware of it.
For health and safety law purposes, ‘self-employed’ means that you do not work under a contract of employment and work only for yourself. The law only applies if you are self-employed and your work is specified (more on that below) or if other people may be exposed to risk from your work.
Only workers who meet the health and safety definition of self-employed, and DO NOT employ other workers, are granted exceptions under health and safety law. Also, you must not put others at risk, and you must not work in any of the scheduled activities:
If you work in construction, as a high-risk industry, health and safety laws apply to you. You need to comply with all relevant regulations, like COSHH, CDM and other construction-related regulations. This applies to tradespersons including:
There are also some less obvious jobs where there is the chance of putting others at risk. This includes:
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