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Companies must realise health and safety is a very serious business.

Byline: By Louise Brason, Business Link County Durham

Health and safety is a serious business: last year, there were 28,000 major work-related injuries in the UK.

Health and safety laws apply to all businesses, however small. Compensation claims from customers or employees can be steep, so it's important all businesses have adequate procedures in place. Public and employer's liability insurance is essential to cover them in case of trips or falls.

A risk assessment is a legal requirement even if a business has no employees.

This shows what a business is doing to identify and minimise causes of injury and ill health to employees, customers and members of the public.

If a business has five or more employees, it must have a written health and safety policy, laying out procedures, including those for monitoring and recording accidents. This should be kept up-to-date and given to all employees.

Small businesses need to be physically prepared for accidents and emergencies. This includes checking fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and fire exits on a regular basis.

A suitably-stocked first aid box should be available and every employee should know where it is kept. All employers must register with the Health and Safety Executive, usually through their local authority.

Inspectors are entitled to visit business premises to make sure they are complying with the law. However, health and safety inspectors are also there to provide help and advice on how to make each business a safer place.

If employers have any queries about complying with health and safety legislation, they should contact a Business Link advisers on 0845 600 9006. Alternatively, visit the Health and Safety Executive's website at www.hse.gov.uk/startup/index.htm
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 20, 2004
Words:282
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