Now, we have all heard the hype about the recent change in Health and Safety legislation and more so the impact these changes have on you as a small business owner. Let’s take a look beyond the hoopla and break it down to 5 tips to stay on the right side of the red tape!
Know the basics
You as a small business owner have always had responsibility over the safety of your people at work – that’s a no brainer! However, what’s changed is you are now personally financially liable should someone seriously hurt themselves at work. There is no surprise that when a few dollar signs and extra zeros are added to the penalties, we all sit up and pay attention!
So what does this all mean exactly? In a nutshell, it means you need to learn the basics of managing health and safety effectively for your small business. Health and Safety is no longer something you can brush under the carpet or have someone else manage in isolation.
The new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 is a beast to get your head around, I’ll be honest, but sadly ignorance is no longer bliss. Here are a few pointers;
• Establish a health and safety policy outlining both yours and your workers responsibilities. This is a good place to start and ensures everyone is clear on who is accountable for what. Responsibilities can be found here; http://www.worksafe.govt.nz/worksafe/hswa/understanding-hswa
• Know your hazards! Hazards are what hurt people, if you can control your hazards and make sure no one gets hurt you are home and hosed!
• Record accidents and know when you need to notify Work Safe of an incident
• Have an emergency plan and know what to do when the unexpected strikes
Keep it simple!
Health and Safety tends to get a bad rap so it’s very important to get buy-in from your workers. Keeping Health and Safety processes simple is key to managing health and safety effectively within your business; anything that is too complex or has too many steps simply won’t get done.
• Make sure processes are documented and are clear and easy to follow.
• Avoid process for process sake. If it doesn’t serve a true purpose, get rid of it.
• Have a timetable associated with your hazard register to ensure controls are regularly checked.
Make Health and Safety part of what you do
It’s simple, everyone has responsibility therefore involve everyone and spread the load! Create a Health and Safety culture by making sure everyone has a say and everyone as some element of responsibility beyond reporting accidents and near misses. You should have trained health and safety representatives and trained first aiders; these are jobs you can dish out to your workers.
Other ways to keep people involved are;
• ask for and act on suggestions and feedback. Have your workers help you implement any changes
• divvy up hazards based on area/department and put multiple people in charge of ensuring they are kept in check
• have a worker chair any health and safety meetings, ensuring you are present of course
Focus on the big stuff
It’s important not to get fixated on the nitty gritty and focus on the big stuff, the big hairy hazards that are most likely to cause harm. Depending on your industry, hazards vary significantly and it’s important that you don’t get bogged down in the detail and lose focus on what’s important… sending your workers home safe.
Proof, proof, proof!
If in the unfortunate event that you are paid a visit by an inspector or you have someone is hurt badly, it’s the paperwork that will save your bacon. You can have all the process in the world, but if you don’t record it in some way you have no proof of all your hard work. Documenting your processes using paper is great but can cross the line into too hard land – especially for those millennials. Finding simple health and safety software is the way to go, it helps immensely with keeping paper trails and gives everyone the power to contribute.
I find an affordable option is My Safety Guru www.mysafetyguru.co.nz it’s simple and has everything you need to manage health and safety in small businesses. My Safety Guru helps you by providing basic policy and gives you a kick-start with general hazards found in some key industries. Reporting new hazards and incidents is a breeze and it reminds you to check on your controls regularly. All activities are recorded ultimately covering your backside! Best of all, it’s very affordable!