Do I need a written risk assessment and health and safety policy?

If you employ five or more people you’re legally required to have a written risk assessment and health and safety policy of your business. Even if you employ fewer than five, by law you still must carry out a risk assessment. This is to ensure you’re properly identifying any potential hazards and taking the necessary steps to control risk. In any case, it’s good practice to maintain an up-to-date written risk assessment and health and safety policy for the sake of protecting your employees and business from harm.

Do I need to complete a fire risk assessment for my business?

Every business must carry out a fire risk assessment under with The Fire Safety Order 2005 – UK Fire Regulations. The Order is there to place the responsibility on the business owner to carry out regular fire risk assessments. A fire risk assessment, as with a risk assessment, must be carried out by a competent person who is trained, experienced and skilled in fire safety. As part of the assessment they need to identify fire hazards, escape routes, check compliance with fire regulations and produce an action plan to reduce the risk of harm.

How do I assess risks in my workplace?

In order to assess risk for a risk assessment you essentially need to take a look at your business for any hazards that might cause potential harm to people. Then work out if you need to do anything to prevent that harm. There’s no need to record every little thing; just take a rational approach, focussing on the areas that pose a real risk. Think about what accidents could realistically happen. To ensure you have everything covered, encourage everyone at your workplace to assess the risk of the work they do. Once you have identified each hazard you need to assess what controls are in place to minimise risk. Doing all of this will help you take the necessary measures to meet best health and safety practice within your workplace.

Who should manage my business health & safety?

You should appoint a competent person, ie, yourself or someone who has ‘the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety’, as defined by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). This needn’t be an individual; it could be a group of people within your company or an outside consultancy. If you feel you lack sufficient health and safety knowledge it makes sense to call on the services of an external advisor. It takes a specialist like Harrier to unravel the complexities of changing legislation and ensure complete compliance. We can identify and minimise risk across your workplace, as well as conduct engaging training for your employees, so that everyone is fully signed up and motivated about adopting healthy and safe working practices.

My business is office-based; do I need to think about health & safety?

Health and safety is not just about what are perceived as high risk environments; office environments have their own hazards that need to be controlled and monitored. These include Visual Display Units (VDUs) causing eye strain and headaches, unsupportive office chairs that can create back, neck or repetitive strain injuries, electrical equipment that needs potentially hazardous maintenance and housekeeping issues that can cause slips and trips.

What is the point of a health & safety audit?

The purpose of a health and safety audit is to see if every part of your company is carrying out best practice in health and safety and staying on the right side of the law. It basically tells you as an employer where you’re performing well and not so well in providing healthy and safe conditions for people to work in. It’s also a good way to monitor the effectiveness of health and safety training and to assess if each employee is putting correct health and safety into practice. For many companies lacking experience of health and safety an audit provides the ideal launch pad for getting things moving.

Is there different legislation for different industries?

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 applies to all industries; however there are specific regulations and approved codes of practice (ACOP) for certain industries and tasks. A word of warning: falling foul of the Act and regulations can result in fines and imprisonment as well as compensation claims. Therefore, you should make yourself familiar with the ACOPs relating to your industry (or simply call on Harrier to do it for you). You can find helpful guidance on the ACOPs that apply to various industries on the HSE website.

Do I need a H&S advisor?

No, not necessarily. The HSE says that any responsible, competent person within your company should preferably take on the role of advising on health and safety matters at your workplace. If you need professional help getting started or developing your existing awareness and policies, we can assist in various ways. We can help set up and review all your systems and procedures, act as impartial accident investigators and provide staff training on becoming a competent person for your business.

Got any more health and safety questions?

Feel free to call us on 01322 460703 for the answers or email us at info@harrier.co.uk


Catering & Hospitality Guidance