Production halted at Barry Callebaut, the largest chocolate factory in the world, after the discovery of salmonella bacteria. This comes just months following 70 children had fallen ill due to eating the contaminated chocolate, including those under the age of five.
This has sent shockwaves across the country, encouraging business owners to reconsider the health and safety of their workplaces.
In accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), employers are obligated to protect the welfare of all employees and customers while on their premises. This involves everything from controlling dangerous substances to providing personal protective equipment (PPE).
The importance of health and safety is unparalleled. To ensure your business has adequate health and safety, follow these five simple steps to success.
First and foremost, every business owner should have a designated health and safety officer. Depending on the size of your business, you may be able to appoint an existing member of staff to be responsible for maintaining health and safety standards.
On the other hand, if your business operates within a high-risk sector, such as construction and demolition, it may be appropriate to employ someone as a full-time health and safety officer. They will be equipped with the knowledge to ensure everything is working according to plan.
To create a health and safety framework, business owners must first conduct a risk assessment. This will help you identify and implement control over any hazards that may result in the injury, illness, or death of those in your workplace.
There are methodological steps to take while conducting a risk assessment. The first step is to identify the hazards, combing through all of the activities unique to your business. Then you can evaluate whether these are capable of causing harm. All of these findings should be recorded before cultivating an appropriate health and safety policy.
Once you have completed a risk assessment, you need to create a plan that considers your findings and complies with health and safety regulations. To write a competent policy, make sure that you state your intent, any required responsibilities, and consequential arrangements.
This plan will then be shared with your employees, ensuring that everyone working within your business is aware of their responsibility to uphold these standards.
It is the responsibility of employers to appropriately train members of staff. Everyone working on your premises should be aware of any hazards they might face, the measures in place to tackle these, and how to act in case of an emergency.
If your business operates commercial slush machines, for example, your workforce should be trained to regularly and adequately clean these each shift. This will reduce the risk of hazardous bacteria causing harm to your customers.
In the instance that someone has come into harm while working on your premises, they might be able to claim compensation. It is therefore important to insure your business. In the UK, employer liability insurance must cover at least £5 million and come from an authorised insurer.
If your business is not insured in accordance with UK law, you may be fined up to £2500 every day. You may also be fined £1000 if you do not display an EL certificate or ensure it is available during inspections.
There are different circumstances to be aware of. You are not obliged to procure insurance if you employ a family member or someone based in another country. So make sure you do your research beforehand.
These are five simple steps to ensure your business has adequate health and safety measures. The process can take time, but it is worth every measure to make sure welfare is prioritised in your workplace.