I know I bang on about how when I worked I used to be a dispensing optician, well I was actually an assistant manager, the health and safety person and the first aid person. Now that I’ve moved on to undertake a business degree, I feel pretty well-versed in what businesses need.
I’m also aware of mistakes businesses make when they start out. I’ve seen plenty of reports where something simple but major has been overlooked. Mistakes like these can cost more than just their reputation; hefty fines can put an end to the future of the business altogether!
Firstly, the most important thing is to appoint a fire officer. Next, hang fire safety signs and put in place a fire strategy. The fire safety officer should arrange fire assembly points and regular fire drills. The fire alarm system and fire extinguishers also need to undergo regular checks.
The next things to consider are training someone to be the health and safety officer and the first aider. If the company is only small, you can have one person in charge of all of these things, so if you decide it’s for the best that you have all the training, that’s absolutely fine.
A stocked first aid box is necessary. The first aid box must be kept in a the same easy-to-reach place and be clearly signposted. The first aider should be in charge of regularly checking the contents of the first aid box (and replenishing items after they have been used).
It’s also necessary to have a signing-in book. This is for anyone who isn’t employed by the business to sign if they enter any ‘staff only’ areas. For example, if a plumber comes to unblock your sink in the staffroom, they would need to sign this book. This will help you identify if anyone in missing in the case of a fire, it also acts as a record showing who has visited and when.
Getting the right type of insurance is an obvious one, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t go for something that fully meets their needs. When this happens, people usually find out when it’s too late and they want to make a claim. Avoid getting the wrong type of insurance by asking lots of questions at the time of purchase.
If your business employs staff to help out, get a solicitor to help you with employment contracts. Poorly worded employment contracts can cost a business a lot of money. If you need to employ freelancers, ensure that they are aware that this is the relationship. It never hurts to brush up on employment law!
The best advice I can give to anyone starting a business is to make sure you are an expert in your field before you get started. Then, when you think you are an expert, do even more research! As a business owner you will be constantly learning, it’s best to keep ahead of the game and look out for upcoming changes in the law and other regulations.
Good luck in your new venture!