By Jason Sullock, New Customer Marketing Manager, Sage

Each and every day, accidents happen in workplaces across the UK. In fact, over 150,000 work-related injuries are reported every year, and over 2 million people are thought to suffer from ill health as a result of their employment. Even worse, around 250 people lose their lives at work each year. The truth is that many of these incidents can be prevented - by simply protecting your people with basic Health & Safety measures, and by complying with Health & Safety law.

It also means your business will be protected, too: you could save thousands of pounds in reduced insurance claims and premiums, you’ll lose fewer working days through illness and accidents, and you could boost the morale of your staff.

We’ve designed this short guide to introduce you to the importance of Health & Safety at work, and ensure that you have enough information to start safeguarding your people and your business.

Did you know that...

- Employers with five or more employees must have a written health policy

- Directors and managers can be held personally responsible for failing to control Health and Safety

- Employers are required by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to assess risks to their workers

What if I get Health & Safety wrong?

It’s common to believe that accidents at work only happen in unusual or exceptional circumstances. The reality is that accidents can happen anytime, and anywhere - and, if you’re not fully prepared, then your business could suffer...

Increased costs

Even if your business does have accident insurance, many costs such as sick pay, damage to raw materials, repairs to equipment, temporary labour, production delays, investigation time, and fines will not be covered under your policy.

Extra demands on your time and resources

The legal costs, fees and other financial penalties associated with an accident at work are not the only issues you need to deal with. There’ll be immediate downtime for both equipment and the injured person, you may need to reschedule production times, and you must spend time properly investigating and reporting the incident.

Low employee morale

If your employees don’t feel like they are adequately protected, or they feel like you are not taking responsibility for Health & Safety, staff relations may break down. This could potentially lead to low morale and poor standards of work.

How do I get Health & Safety right?

Health & Safety doesn’t have to be complex, expensive or time consuming, and by getting it right, you could save lives as well as money.

Be aware of current legislation

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the basis of Health & Safety legislation. It places general duties on employers and other people in control of premises, manufacturers and employees to ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ protect the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees.

Properly assess risks to your employees

As an employer, you are required to assess risks to your employees by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The regulations also require you to identify the measures needed to comply with Health & Safety laws and to appoint competent people to help you take appropriate measures.

Don’t knowingly put your employees at risk

If you have employees with health problems that may become aggravated by certain types of work, it makes sense to offer flexible working options or alternative arrangements. Remember to take health risks into account when recruiting, too.

Provide relevant information, education and up-to-date training

Make sure your employees are properly trained in Health & Safety procedures and hazard awareness, and ensure they understand how to prevent or minimise risk. Posters are an effective and inexpensive way to communicate risks, while some notices are required by law.

Make sure your first aid procedures work

It’s essential that your first aid procedures comply with both the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 (3), and the First Aid at Work Approved Code of Practice.

Promote good health

It’s not required by law, but it’s a great idea to offer your employees facilities such as regular health checks, eyesight and hearing tests, dental advice, healthy menus in the staff canteen, exercise and relaxation classes, and even stress counselling. Any of these can have real health benefits for your staff.

Develop your own Health & Safety policy

If you have five or more employees, you need an up-to-date written statement or policy that must be communicated to employees. Consultations with employees, surveys on staff attitudes towards Health & Safety, and suggestions for improving the work environment are all good starting points for developing a policy.

If you do need help with Health & Safety and need advice, turn to Sage. Sage offer a comprehensive HR, Employment Law and Health & Safety support — Sage People Advice. For more information visit our Sage People Advice website.

Sage World is a unique event for anyone looking to start or grow their business. It’s a place where you can see inspirational business speakers, seminars and live product demonstrations. Delivered by Sage UK at EventCity, Manchester on the 12th and 13th of October. Book your FREE place here www.sageworld2011.co.uk

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