Health & safety tips for small businesses

04 Sep 2019

Every business and organisation in New Zealand has a responsibility to provide a healthy and safe environment for staff and visitors. It’s important that health and safety is incorporated into everyday processes and practices, but this only needs to be at a level that is proportionate to the risk within your environment. 

We often hear from people within smaller organisations who feel overwhelmed with health and safety paperwork and planning. But in many cases, the legal requirements do not dictate extreme note taking and processes and instead, simple and effective systems can be implemented.

Here’s our health and safety tips for small businesses:

Develop a health and safety plan

This is a document that describes the process for identifying the physical and health hazards that could harm workers and visitors in your environment. It should include procedures for hazard and accident prevention and the steps to take when accidents occur. Depending on your environment, you may wish to include processes specific to a particular activity, hazard or piece of equipment. All employees should read and understand the plan and know where it is kept so they can refresh themselves on its content.

Emergency planning

It is also sensible to develop an emergency plan. This is a document that outlines what you and your employees should do if disaster strikes, whether it be natural (earthquake, flood high winds, landslide etc), health (chemical spills, epidemic, medical emergency) or infrastructure-related (utility outages water supply etc). While you can’t plan for every type of emergency, you will have a good understanding of the risks within your environment and your emergency plan should cover scenarios where you may have little or no warning to prepare.

Your plan should cover:

  • Evacuation procedures
  • Assembly points
  • Wardens
  •  First aid procedures
  • Methods of communication
  • Roles and responsibilities

Keep an incident register

This doesn’t have to be death by paperwork. The depth of information you include only needs to be appropriate to your level of risk. It’s also a good idea to get your employees’ input into how the register should work and to ensure they know where it is kept and how to complete it.

An incident register should include:

  • Near misses
  • Incidents
  • Occupational illnesses

Next to each of these, you should include:

  • Who was affected
  • What happened or was involved
  • Where and when it happened
  • What happened after the incident

Set reminders

There will be set times when specific actions need to happen in respect to your health and safety plan such as servicing and warranting machinery or vehicles and training refresher courses for employees. It is good practice to ensure the person or people responsible for these actions have calendar reminders set so these important activities are not overlooked.

Keep your first aid kit up to date

This may sound like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many organisations have incomplete or expired first aid kits. Set a reminder to regularly check and replenish the kits within your environment.

Emergency contacts

Make sure you have current emergency contacts for each employee within your business and check these details each year.

Health and safety does not need to be an arduous task. It’s about having a great business with safe and happy workers. Take a look at Axiom’s range of health and safety courses to set you and your team on the right track.