Should you be outsourcing health and safety for your small business?

Not keeping up to date with health and safety can not only be harmful to your staff but can also be hugely damaging to your business. Outsourcing health and safety takes away the biggest headache for many small businesses

As your small business grows, it’s easy to forget about some of the basics.

When staff numbers keep increasing and profits rise, your time becomes even more precious.

Which is when you might start to let some of the smaller things slip, like does your premises still have a suitable number of toilets? Is all your electrical equipment safety compliant? Do you have enough first-aid training in place?

Although such examples might seem quite inconsequential, they’re important. Because when something goes wrong, such as an employee suffers an injury with no first aiders available to help, a business risks facing legal action and a damaging penalty fine.

See also: How to fill the health and safety knowledge gap in your business

According to the Government, small businesses consider health and safety as its biggest regulatory headache and the most substantial obstacle to success.

Of course, no employer sets out to put staff in harm’s way. We understand why safety in the workplace is not only important but also essential. We know that if we don’t provide a safe working environment for our employees, and for those who use our facilities, the consequences can be devastating. It’s most often just a case of being unaware that a hazard even exists, let alone putting your staff in danger. But when employers find out, it’s often too late.

Get clued-up on health and safety procedure

Small businesses face large fines

If a company has failed in its health and safety obligations, then large fines will result.

Financial penalties rose sharply from February 2016 with the introduction of new sentencing guidelines; the aim was to try to ensure employers take greater care and take their responsibilities more seriously.

A fatality or a serious accident now doesn’t even have to occur at a workplace under the new guidelines for considerable penalties to kick in.

In 2017/18 businesses were fined £72.6m for health and safety offences. Fines worth £1m or more for breaches of health and safety legislation have become the “new norm” within the UK. According to solicitors Clyde & Co, there were 19 cases with fines exceeding £1m imposed by the courts in the 12 months to October 31 2018.

See also: Employees in the workplace are not taking health and safety seriously

Reading up on health and safety legislation is time-consuming

The work of compliance is a minefield, with new and updated regulations constantly coming into effect and regularly causing a headache for businesses, especially for smaller firms which do not have the capacity or budget to employ a dedicated employee to oversee health and safety. The benefits to be gained from outsourcing to experts are huge. Outsourcing health and safety to a qualified expert frees up your time to focus on running your business.

Outsourcing health and safety

Health and safety compliance is a legal requirement but beyond the scope of most small businesses to hire a full-time compliance officer. Outsourcing health and safety provides expert help on an as-and-when basis. A qualified outsourced expert may point out risks you were unaware of, shutting down possible legal action. Planning and pre-empting heads off potential risks.

A competent consultancy can also offer access to a collective pool of expertise from a team of qualified professionals at the touch of a button. Other outsourcing health and safety services to be expected include routine visits and the completion of policies and other important documents that would otherwise have to be written in-house.

Employees need to be trained

Even if you are on top of employment law, every piece of legislation requires you, as an employer, to provide your workforce with appropriate information, training and supervision. This isn’t an option, it’s a legal requirement – no matter how small your firm is. However, this is often overlooked as an obligation, leaving your business open to accidents, legal action and reputational damage.

See also: The Small Business guide to HR

A health and safety specialist consultancy will be able to offer bespoke training courses, hosted by experts covering a selection of specific topics, ensuring legal requirements are met.

5 questions to ask if you need to outsource health and safety

  • Do you employ a designated staff member who helps you meet current health and safety standards?
  • Do you have a written health and safety policy statement setting out your company’s approach to ensure your staff safety? Any company with more than five employees needs to have one
  • Has your small business carried out risk assessments in relation to all significant sources of harm (hazards) arising from its activities, and recorded the results?
  • Does your company have arrangements in place to report accidents, injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences? These are called RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) and require you to keep records
  • Do you provide adequate health and safety training? Has your company assessed the capabilities and training needs of all staff about health and safety?

If the answer is no to any of the above, you may not be legally compliant. Outsourcing could be the next logical step.

How much does outsourcing health and safety cost?

Health and safety cover from Peninsula can cost as little as £19.80 per employee per month if your business has five employees. The cost goes down the bigger your business.

Peninsula health and safety offers:

  • Bespoke documentation, policies and handbooks
  • 24-hour advice line with crisis and incident support
  • Health and safety software platform
  • E-learning training
  • Annual review and risk assessment training
  • Optional insurance

Remember, it’s paramount that health and safety isn’t taken lightly or seen as being optional. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places general health and safety duties on the employer and the consequences of not complying with regulations can be devastating, so it’s crucial businesses, including the smallest of SMEs, cover themselves.

Award-winning HR and health and safety support for small businesses. Arrange a free consultation with one of Peninsula’s local advisors today.

Further reading

Health and safety checklist for small businesses – 9 things you need to do