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A Guide to Health and Safety Legal Requirements for New Businesses in the UK

New businesses in the UK face a whole range of challenges. To succeed, you’ll need a product or service for which there is enough demand. You’ll need to get the word out to your would-be customers. And you’ll need to overcome any technical obstacles that stand between you and success.

Among the most important considerations concern the safety of your workers, and of members of the public. There are legal responsibilities to be aware of and abide by, and employers who fail to do so might face heavy penalties.

Let’s take a look at some of the Health and Safety requirements that businesses in the UK should be aware of.

Do I need to register with the HSE?

The Health and Safety Executive is the independent regulator in the UK, charged with enforcing health and safety legislation, informing the public about what’s required of them, and basically making work in the UK as safe as possible.

Changes made to the law in 2009 mean that most businesses don’t need to register with the HSE. There are, however, exceptions in certain industries. If you’re building things or demolishing them, or doing other hazardous work, then the chances are good that you need to register.

Who are you responsible for?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers owe a duty of care to their employees. This means providing adequate safety equipment, like PPE, as well as a safe working environment. What this means in practice is that you could be held responsible for any illness or injury developed as a result of the working environment being sub-par.

What happens when a business fails?

If you don’t implement health and safety measures, then you leave yourself vulnerable to prosecution. As such, it’s worth being proactive in the implementation of all measures deemed necessary in your line of business.

What are the most common regulations businesses need to follow?

Beside from the aforementioned 1974 act, there are several other pieces of law to be aware of. These include The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

What other duties are there?

Among the most important, you should be conducting regular risk assessments, providing training to your employees, and keeping them aware of their responsibilities. This might mean installing a few posters around the premises and making sure that your staff knows what to do in the event of a fire.

Do I need a written Health and Safety Policy?

A written policy is a requirement if your business employs more than five people. Ideally, however, you might look into developing one before you reach this threshold.

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