Becoming a small business owner is a hectic project to take on. There are so many different things that you need to consider before even attempting to make your first sale. Commercial property, overheads, branding, advertising, visual merchandising, web design, the list goes on. It’s not surprising then, that health and safety tends to slip from many business people’s minds. But as the old saying goes: safety first. Safety surrounding every part of your business should always be priority to ensure the good health and wellbeing of you, your employees, your customers and the general members of the public. Here are a few things to remember to keep everything running smoothly.
Why Should Health and Safety Be a Paramount Concern?
Every single year there are around 150,000 workplace accidents or injuries in the U.K. alone. While every now and then some sort of issue is bound to happen, many of these incidents are avoidable. It’s your responsibility as an employer to reduce the overall potential risk of harm in the workplace for all people present. There’s a lot to take on, so for a complete guide, check out these health and safety policy procedures.
Protecting People in Your Commercial Property
Let’s start with the actual brick and mortar of your business. It’s absolutely essential that you ensure that your commercial property is safe and adheres to all of the health and safety regulations that are recommended by the authorities in its location.
Fire Safety is paramount. First, ensure that you have the necessary number of fire exits in your commercial property to ensure that everyone in the building has a means of escape if fire were to break out. Install appropriate signage throughout your store, alerting customers to the nearest exit. You should also ensure that there is ample signage around alerting guests of the fire procedure that is in place (including details of a meeting point to go to if fire were to break out). Next, ensure that you have fire extinguishers available in easy to reach locations. There are various types available, so do your research and make sure that you have the more appropriate ones for potential hazards in your place of business. If you want to be extra vigilant, you can also install a sprinkler system. Finally, when taking on any new employee, you should put them through a small training programme so that they know all the ins and outs of your fire procedure. This can include information regarding when to evacuate the building, how to ensure that all customers are out of the building and how, if possible, to use the extinguishers.
Spills are bound to happen at some point or another. Whether there’s a leak somewhere in the roof or someone accidentally spills a drink. You need to make sure that people are alerted to anything on the floor that could cause them to fall. Bright yellow wet floor signs are a must. Spills should be cleaned as quickly as possible, then the sign should remain in the area until the ground is completely dry.
Every commercial space will have cleaning products, but when these are not in use you have to make sure that they are in a locked cupboard away from the shop floor. Remember that your store may be visited by infants who may open stray bottles that may be left around thinking that they contain drinks of some sort. So, try to keep store cleaning to hours when members of the public aren’t in your commercial property and lock any harmful chemicals or substances away.
Protecting Your Staff
As safe as your workplace may seem, it is essential that you train your staff in basic health and safety. This will endow them with the knowledge of how their conduct can affect their overall health while at work. The more that they know, the less likely they are to run into trouble. Remember to highlight areas such as how to correctly lift objects (this will come in especially handy when staff are moving objects in the store room or stock into the store). You should also teach them how to correctly use ladders if reaching goods from higher shelves. If you require employees to use specialist equipment such as cherry pickers or fork lifts, make sure that the staff members are fully trained and qualified to use each type of equipment. The uniform that you assign should be sensible and comfortable: avoid requesting that staff wear heels or clothing that may restrict their free movement. Finally, remember that there are less obvious risks that your staff face on a daily basis. Every year thousands of people suffer from problems such as repetitive strain injuries: these are caused by repeated behaviours that cause bodily damage over a period of time. So fit your office out with all of the necessary equipment and furniture that will guarantee your staff’s comfort and safety. Try ergonomically designed desks, seating, mouse pads and keyboards. These are tiny changes, but they will truly make all the difference to your staff members.
These are just a few of the steps that you can take: there are many more options. So do your research and always try your utmost to keep everything running smoothly in the workplace. Not only is this a moral necessity, but it will benefit the way your business works too. A safer and less hazardous environment will reduce the amount of time that your staff take off sick or recovering from injury. This will also increase staff morale. You also leave yourself less prone to facing serious lawsuits down the line. This could save you a fortune and will also cement your reputation as a responsible and ethical employer. This will encourage the best staff members to want to work for you and for customers to have a better overall image of you and your company, encouraging them to spend their money with you over competitors.