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Article Index
Health and Safety: A Guide for Small Business Owners
Your Responsibilities
Health and Safety Policy
Fire Precautions
Employee Welfare
Accidents and Emergencies
Help and Support

Health and Safety: A Guide for Small Business Owners

Who am I responsible for?

As a business owner, you are held responsible for the health and safety of everyone affected by your business. This doesn’t just mean your staff, but anyone who is on or around your premises and anyone affected by goods or services you sell – so it includes visitors, consumers and potentially other members of the public.

This means you need to take various steps to comply with the law, including developing a health and safety policy and make suitable arrangements for employee welfare – see below for an explanation.

You also need to undertake what’s known as a ‘risk assessment’, where you identify and take measures to nullify potential hazards to health and safety within your business. HSE has provided a guide to small and medium-sized businesses, covering what you need to do when conducting a risk assessment – click here for further information.

You must also have employer liability insurance in order to comply with the law – the only exception to this is if all your employees are also close relatives.

What special situations should I be aware of?

Some people are additionally protected under health and safety law, and you need to take additional steps when taking their needs into account.

Firstly, your health and safety (especially fire) arrangements need to take people with disabilities into account, and work out how you can accommodate them in emergency situations – for example, you need to consider whether your building has step-free access in the event of a fire.

You need to take special considerations into account when having young people (under 18) on site, for example taking someone on for work experience – more information can be found here.

You also need to carry out another risk assessment if you are dealing with pregnant women in order to avoid exposing them or their child to unnecessary danger – click here for further information.

If you run a catering or restaurant business, or any kind of business that serves food – either to staff or to the public – you need to register as a food provider with your local authorities’ environmental health service. Click here for a guide to registering.

Some businesses associated with particular hazards, such as construction or chemical engineering, face extra regulation from HSE. Find out whether any particular standards apply to your industry by clicking here.