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HSC advice to small firms on how to cut risks

THE Health and Safety Commission (HSC) has deepened its dialogue with small businesses about how to cut risks in the workplace. Speaking at the Sunday Times’ ‘Small Business Week’ at Earls Court in London last month, Bill Callaghan, chair of the HSC, and Judith Donovan, Health and Safety Commissioner for Small Businesses, outlined the benefits, both direct and indirect, of carrying out risk assessments.

‘It makes good business sense to manage your health and safety and the key to this is risk assessment,’ said Mr Callaghan. ‘But risk assessment isn’t some complicated scientific process or simply a load of red tape, it’s plain common sense –– find out if you have a problem, decide what to do about it and make an action plan. As well as helping firms comply with health and safety law, risk assessment leading to health and safety management can actually save small businesses money,’ he added.

The HSE, which has published a free ‘ready reckoner’ to help small businesses work out just what an accident could cost them, says many people are surprised at just how costly even a small accident can be. It has calculated that, for a serious or major injury, the typical uninsured cost to employers is around £20,000.

At last month’s event the HSE also launched a revised version of its highly successful free leaflet ‘An Introduction to Health and Safety’, aimed at small businesses. The revised version includes a number of additional topics relating to the HSE’s priority programmes including work-related stress, workplace transport, and falls from height, as well as added features including useful tools to use to carry out a risk assessment and develop a health and safety policy.

Judith Donovan said: ‘If you don’t read any other health and safety leaflet, read this one. Most health and safety failures are avoidable –– they are due to poor management and ignorance of good practice. Health and safety doesn’t have to get in the way of what you need to do in your business and you don’t have to read a plethora of health and safety literature, but what you do need to do is understand your health and safety responsibilities and take action.’

Single copies of the revised leaflet (INDG259rev1) can be obtained, free of charge, from HSE Books.

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