Health check for small businesses in Scotland

Published: 27/04/2012

Santia, a provider of consulting, auditing, training and accreditation in the risk management sector recognises that small businesses face a major challenge in ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of employees, particularly as staff absences can have such a major impact on the bottom line.

With this in mind, Santia is encouraging small businesses in Scotland to remember the details as well as the more obvious elements of health and safety such as risk assessments and policy statements.

This six-point health check of simple measures which may have slipped employers’ minds will help businesses to maintain compliance, safeguard the health of employees and avoid the financial risks associated with health and safety breaches.

Weekly fire alarm testing. At about the same time every week, a manual call point should be operated during normal working hours. A different call point should be used for each test so that all call points are tested in rotation.

Portable appliance testing. All electrical systems and equipment must be maintained to prevent danger. This includes appliances such as computers, kettles and vacuum cleaners.

Display screen assessments. An assessment should be made to ensure that all workstations are set out correctly, with screens and chairs adjusted according to the needs of the user.

Training. All employers have a duty to ensure staff have received adequate health and safety training, whether it be an onsite toolbox talk, technical training for a safety manager, or first-day induction training. There are also more specific types of training that may be relevant to your business, for example asbestos awareness training for anyone who may potentially be exposed to asbestos, and the designated fire marshal will require more comprehensive fire safety training than other members of staff.

Monitoring. It’s all very well providing employees with safety equipment but it’s also the employer’s responsibility to make sure that the safety boots/goggles/gloves/hard hats are being used.

Health surveillance. Health and safety is no longer a matter of simply preventing accidents. Employers are increasingly recognising the importance of a proactive wellbeing strategy. Taking steps to identify the onset of any work-related health problems so that they don’t get worse and cause long-term sickness absence is an important part of this.

Santia consultant Andrew Regel said: “It’s essential that small businesses with only a handful of employees are really getting the most from their staff, and having just one employee absent for an extended period of time could have serious consequences. A display screen assessment for someone with a bad back could identify a simple solution that will keep them in work.

“It’s also equally important to have health and safety training and comprehensive procedures in place in case of fire whether you have two or 200 employees.

“Small businesses often find it hard to set aside adequate time to address health and safety as with fewer members of staff each has a broader range of responsibilities, so our health check list which will help employers identify simple measures that can be introduced to improve their health and safety practices should be a useful tool.”

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

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