Construction businesses of all shapes and sizes need to ensure that they are acting in accordance with appropriate health and safety laws at all times.
It makes good business sense to protect your employees from the outset and to avoid absences, additional insurance costs and management time which may otherwise be lost investigating a breach.
If a breach occurs, this could also result in serious consequences both for the business and for you as an owner or director.
Depending on the nature and gravity of the breach, your business could face consequences ranging from a fine to the disqualification as a director, or even imprisonment.
In some cases, both the company and its directors will be prosecuted. This is one of many reasons why businesses need to keep on top of health and safety compliance at all times.
What must I do to be compliant?
Employers’ general obligations are set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, but you also need to be aware of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and any specific rules that are relevant to your particular business sector or activity.
You are required to carry out adequate risk assessments of workplaces, jobs and projects, which look at the risks and consider how best to avoid, reduce or manage those risks.
You also need to consider whether protective clothing is required, whether adequate training has been provided and whether there are safeguards in place for workers who are carrying out tasks alone.
On top of this, if you have five employees or more, you are must have a written health and safety policy in place and make this readily available.
It is important to remember that health and safety laws exist for the best of reasons and the very worst breaches could result in serious injury – or even death.
It is unrealistic for businesses to expect to be able to eliminate all risks completely, but it is vital that you do all that is ‘reasonably practicable’ to reduce the level of risk at all times.
If in doubt as to what is ‘reasonably practicable’, business owners should seek specialist legal advice.
For help and advice on all aspects of employment law including health and safety compliance, please contact us.