The Beginner's Guide to Occupational Health & Safety

The Beginner's Guide to Occupational Health & Safety

Read Time: 3 Minutes


19 Feb 2018

When you’re a side hustle solopreneur, health and safety isn’t your number one priority. It should be.

If you don’t look after yourself in the early days of your business, you’ll run out of steam and risk damaging yourself before your company gets the chance to really take off!

It’s not just about your health and safety, however. Whether you have clients visiting your home office, or you’re ready to take on your first employees, there are responsibilities you’ll need to consider.

Why Health And Safety Is Important For Startups

It sometimes feels that, if you’re working from a home office and inviting clients over for a casual coffee meeting, that you’re not really at work.

You are!

That also means you have essential responsibilities to your visitors. If, for example, you have a hidden step or a low ceiling into your office space, you need to have a sign up to warn visitors about it.

If you don’t have a sign, and they trip or bump their head, you could face legal action. Your insurance is unlikely to cover a clear hazard that has not been made safe or highlighted with signage.

Health And Safety For Solopreneurs

When you’re sat on the sofa in the evening, balancing your laptop and multi-tasking with Netflix on the TV, health and safety may not occur to you.

However, set good habits now and it’ll be easy to expand your health and safety processes when your business grows!

The first thing: assess your workstation. That means no more sofa lounging! You need a proper table and desk chair in order to ensure a healthy posture and prevent muscle strains.

Next up: assess your working hours. Yes, really! When you’re juggling a day job AND setting up a business, it’s easy to want to work all the hours available to you. If you worked like that for an employer, you’d go mad.

Give yourself regular breaks, and schedule time away from your desk. You can still be thinking about your next steps in the empire plans while you take a walk or make a cup of tea and call your mother for a catch-up.

Health And Safety For Startups: Your Employees

When it’s time to take on new employees, you still don’t need a complex health and safety plan.

If you have fewer than five employees, you don’t even need to write down your plan (though we advise that you do anyway, to future-proof your business).

As an employer, you need to make sure that your employees have a safe work environment. That includes a reasonable temperature (switching off the heating saves bills but not employee contentment), safety from hazards such as cables (fasten them away under desks), and clear procedures for reporting incidents.

Make sure your employees have a workspace assessment when they join your company. This includes checking monitor height, appropriate chairs, or standing space for production stations. You may also need to provide specialist adapted equipment to accommodate for an individual’s needs, such as a vertical mouse to prevent wrist strain in someone with arthritis.

Educate Your New Employees

Your employees have responsibilities, too!

Make sure they know how and where to report any potential hazards, or actual incidents, relating to health and safety within your business.

They are also responsible for basic responsibilities, such as keeping a clean and clear working environment where possible to reduce the risk of trips and falls.

You may want to produce a health and safety section in an induction booklet or pack, so that all new employees are immediately provided with information about your – and their – responsibilities to a safe work environment.


About the Author

Hi! I’m Laura and I’m the Head of instantprint. I’m dedicated to using my experience to help small businesses make the most out of their marketing.