Do I need an external H&S Advisor or Consultant?
The law states that as an employer you must have access to “Competent” Health and Safety assistance. Competency means someone with sufficient Knowledge, skills, experience and other qualities to provide adequate H&S advice or assistance commensurate with the risk of your business. This gives you as the employer a choice to have that competent advice come from an in house resource providing they are competent to undertake the role or utilise an external consultancy to provide you with expert H&S advice. Many small to medium businesses do not have the resources to employ a H&S Manager or Advisor in house so they decide to engage with a H&S Consultancy on a retained basis. This can be a very cost effective and efficient way of meeting your legal obligations. Larger companies sometimes augment there in house resources with consultancies to advise in specialist areas such as fire safety, CDM or Occupational Health.
Do I need a written H&S policy?
It is best practice to have a written policy regardless of the number of employees you have however, the law states that there is a requirement to have a written H&S policy when you reach 5 employees. H&S policies should include a policy statement sometimes known as a statement of intent and arrangements which indicate how a company would approach matters of H&S such as Occupational Health, Fire Safety, Electrical safety etc.
Do I have to conduct a risk assessment for all activities?
The law requires that all work activities should be risk assessed. If you have less than 5 employees there is no requirement to document this procedure however, the process for conducting a risk assessment id the same regardless of documenting the process. Should you have more than 5 employees there is a requirement in law to have a written record of this. It is important to note that you are required to record the significant hazards e.g. in an office environment you may not wish to record the possibility of employees receiving a paper cut even though this may be a possibility as it is not considered significant. However, you may wish to record the use of extension leads because they pose a danger of people tripping and injuring themselves which could lead to a significant injury and time off or could lead to a fire.
Do I need a Health and Safety Committee?
Employees have a legal right to be consulted with on matters that affect their H&S such as the introduction of new processes, procedures or equipment. There is no legal requirement to set up a H&S Committee however, this is seen as an effective and efficient means of consulting with the work force. Other methods of consulting would be emails with the right to reply, leaflets with a means of response and ad hoc meetings.