028 9022 4738 office@astorarisk.co.uk

Start-Ups &

New Businesses

I’ve just started my own business – what do I need to do?

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.


Decide who will help you with your duties

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):

      • yourself
      • one or more of your workers
      • someone from outside your business, such as a safety consultant (that’s us!)

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.


Write a health and safety policy for your business

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.


Manage the risks in your business

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.


Consult your employees

You should find out what your employees and their representatives think about any changes that might affect their health and safety.


Provide training & information

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:

      • hazards and risks they may face
      • measures in place to deal with those hazards and risks
      • how to follow any emergency procedures


Provide the right workplace facilities

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.


    First aid, accidents and illness in the workplace

    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:

        • a suitably stocked first aid box
        • an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements
        • information for all employees giving details of first-aid arrangements


    Display the Health & Safety law poster

    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.

    What if I’m self-employed?

    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:

        • Agriculture
        • Asbestos
        • Construction
        • Gas
        • Genetically modified organisms
        • Railways

    Does my industry put people ‘at risk’?

    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:

        • Tradespeople – eg. electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, joiners

      There are also some less obvious jobs where there is the chance of putting others at risk. This includes:

          • Hairdressers & Beauticians – using chemicals and dyes
          • Landlords – responsible for ensuring electrical & gas appliances are checked and in working order
          • Industrial or commercial cleaning – using chemicals and potential use of work equipment, or work at height
          • Home installations or works – eg. erecting wall mounted TV’s, gutter cleaning, window cleaning
          • Mobile services – eg. hairdressers, massage therapists