As a business owner, you will have many responsibilities but one thing that gets overlooked sometimes in the race to make a business profitable or keep it that way is the importance of having good health and safety in the workplace. Quite apart from the regulatory responsibilities a business owner has toward health and safety, there is a moral responsibility to keep staff safe from harm in the workplace.
The best way that you, as a business owner, can ensure proper health and safety in the workplace is to formulate a comprehensive health and safety policy. A properly formulated policy will fit in with the needs of staff and will not disrupt the business but, rather, add to its effective operation. Having a written statement outlining health and safety policy may not be a legal requirement, depending on the size of the business in question, but it can be useful in achieving staff buy-in and in ensuring that every member of staff is aware of their own responsibilities.
If you are unsure about how to draft a workplace health and safety policy, the following basic steps are recommended:
Check up on your legal requirements so you have everything covered.
Consult with staff and get their input into a health and safety policy and what should be included. Often, staff members have an insight into an aspect of the business that the owner, through no fault of his own, might have overlooked.
Conduct a risk assessment to determine which aspects of the workplace pose the greatest risk in terms of a possible accident.
Implement a proper staff training regime, without which a policy is merely a set of principles rather than something that can be acted upon in practical, day-to-day terms.
Conduct reviews of the health and safety policy on a regular basis to ensure everything is up to date.
A key element in any effective workplace health and safety policy is a testing regime for drugs or alcohol. A member of staff under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the workplace represents a potential threat to others. For instance, they could cause an accident, resulting in an injury to a coworker. Of course, as a business owner, you need to keep in mind that introducing an alcohol or drug testing regime requires buy-in from staff and an understanding that it is being rolled out in everyone’s best interest and will in no way be unnecessarily intrusive. In terms of a testing policy, oral fluid testing can prove a useful addition to the system. Oral fluid testing involves the non-invasive obtaining of a sample and is easier both for the individual being tested and for the tester. With the testing of oral fluids it is possible to detect most substances for up to 48 hours following ingestion.
A happy and successful workplace is a safe workplace, so it is worth your time as a business owner to invest resources in formulating a proper health and safety policy.