Safe approach for small businesses | 05 March 09
SMALL business owners are warned to make sure their health and safety procedures are up to scratch with the launch of a new strategy from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Law firm Ward Hadaway says that the safety watchdog is looking to help out employers in smaller businesses who can find it difficult to apply ‘goal-based’ health and safety management.
The HSE says its new strategy, which is still at the consultation stage, will aim to help SMEs find new ways to comply with health and safety law “in a manner proportionate to the risks posed by their work activities”.
However, the Executive’s strategy also reminds small businesses that they must still have “at least one competent person” to take charge of health and safety matters at their workplace.
James Thompson (pictured), partner in the health and safety team at Ward Hadaway, said: “This is very much a ‘carrot and stick’ approach from the Health and Safety Executive.
“The HSE is clearly acknowledging that small businesses face very different challenges to larger counterparts when it comes to fulfilling health and safety criteria.
"This is an encouraging move because what is appropriate for sizeable companies with many employees may not work for SMEs.
“However, in tandem with this, the Executive is also taking the opportunity to remind small businesses that they have a legal responsibility to ensure that they comply with health and safety legislation, which includes designating a competent person to take charge of health and safety matters.
“This can be a difficult thing for businesses with small workforces to achieve, but the ‘competent person’ can be an external consultant brought in to provide advice, draw up policies and give assistance as and when required.
“Since many SME owners already have their hands full coping with the many other aspects of running their business in what are challenging times, this may prove an increasingly popular solution.”
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