sole trader and small business

Health and safety policies are mandatory for businesses that employ 5 or more people but that doesn’t mean as a sole trader or micro business owner that you should forget about health and safety. Putting a series of safeguards in keeps you safe, your clients and customers as well as any sub-contracts you use too. So, what should be in your health and safety manual?

Health and safety tips for the sole trader and small business

Employing less than 5 people means your health and safety requirements will look different from those of large companies, but this doesn’t make them any less important.

You’ll still to consider aspects that pose a health and safety risk to workers, public and you – and what can and should do to minimise the hazard.

Understanding what the risks are and the level of hazard they present is key in making sure your workplace, whether that is at a fixed address or out in the field, is as safe as it can be.

Broad areas of health and safety to look at

To understand the risks, you need to assess them. This comes in the shape of a risk assessment, a living document that you will tweak and add to as your business grows. It is a simple but essential document that in its simplest form, lists the risks and defines how much of a hazard they are.

It will also show what actions you are taking to minimise hazards. The HSE website is full of information regarding health and safety in the workplace, listing broad categories as well as suggesting risks that can be more prevalent in some industries and businesses than others.

You need to consider things such as:

  • Electrical safety
  • Fire risks
  • Manual handling
  • Slips and trips
  • Working at height

Do you need a risk assessment if you are self-employed?

Since October 2015, if you can be sure that your work doesn’t pose a risk to other workers or the public, health and safety law doesn’t apply. But you need to be clear that there are no risks. In some instances, it is worth taking a close look at what you do and how you deliver it and, if the worst should happen, what responsibility will fall on you.

Do sole traders and small businesses need a health and safety policy?

A health and safety policy sets out what the risks are and how they will be managed. It explains to your staff, contractors and anyone else how you will tackle these issues to make your workplace a safer place.

What about health and safety schemes such as CHAS or SSIP?

For small businesses and sole traders, being members of these schemes shows you have a strong handle on risks and hazards. This gives you a great platform to grow your business, especially if you want to tender for work from Government departments or other large bodies.

Health and safety is important for all business, no matter how small. We can help take the pressure of getting it right off your shoulders.