Health Insurance for my Small Business?

Is your small business growing? Are you concerned about how to handle the health and safety of your workforce? This article will get you up to speed on what you should know.

Health Insurance for my Small Business?

Credit: Victor1558

Health and safety policy

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), you have to create a written health and safety policy which everyone can have access to.

If you’re not sure where to start, The HSE’s website has some great templates which you can use.

Assessing the risk

Whether your staff are engaged in clerical work or operate dangerous machinery, you’re legally obligated to carry out a risk assessment of your first aid needs.

The scope of your assessment should be fairly wide, covering the expected hazards, looking at past accidents and how likely there are to happen again, what health and safety measures (if any) are already in place, the size of the premises and what hours staff work. Do your workers operate heavy machinery which could cause an accident? Do they often have to lift heavy boxes? If they’re desk-bound, are you taking measures to make sure they’re sitting with the right posture so they don’t get eye strain or develop neck and back problems?

To make sure you cover yourself, refer to the HSE’s checklist and keep a paper trail, recording the checks you’ve taken as you go along.

You’ll then be able to class your workplace as ‘low hazard’ or ‘high hazard’, and take the appropriate measures.

Basic working conditions

You don’t have to invest in free sushi bars, basketball courts and swimming pools like web giant Google. But you do have to commit to providing staff with a safe and clean working environment. The temperature has to be comfortable, there has to be enough ventilation, the space should be well-lit with enough rubbish bins and you have to provide clean toilets with towels and soap.

Licences and insurance

There are certain industries where the risk to the general public or your staff will be higher than average, in which case you’ll have to apply for a special licence before you start operating. For instance, if you serve food, you’ll have to go through certain training and have your premises inspected before you get the all-clear to set up shop.

And while it wasn’t a concern when it was just you working for yourself, now that you employ people you’re more than likely to be required to take out employers liability insurance. It is an added cost, but if you’ve taken all the recommended steps and have made reasonable attempts to provide a safe working environment, it’s there to protect you too.

The workplace in 2013: changing health and safety needs

The modern workplace is not always office bound: most employers allow staff to work remotely or ask them to travel for meetings, so think about how you’re taking reasonable efforts to protect them outside the office too.

Many small businesses take out business travel insurance on behalf of staff who travel constantly for work so they can get guaranteed access to top medical care, wherever in the world they are. And remember: health and safety law still applies if staff work from home, so make sure their workspace at home is risk-assessed before you allow them to work remotely.

Credit: PhilRoeder

First aid

Your risk assessment will tell you what to put in your first aid box, but there is no mandatory list of must-have items which the law sets out. For most offices, a basic box with plasters and antiseptic cream will suffice. But if your workplace is more dangerous, your first aid kit may have to be more extensive and specialist.

You’ll also have to have an ‘appointed person’ who will take charge or a trained first aider –whichever you feel is best for your situation.  Your first aider should go through training every three years with a body like the British Red Cross Health who can provide HSE-approved training.

Everyone at work should be briefed about your health and safety policy, who to go to in an emergency and where to find your first aid box. And you’re legally required to display the health and safety poster prominently for all to see. If there is an accident, such as somebody falling or fainting, make sure the incident is logged for your records.

A healthy lifestyle

Sickness absence costs UK businesses more than £12 billion per year. While the law doesn’t make you responsible for how fit your workforce is, the more they exercise, the less stressed they are and the better food they eat the more productive they’ll be. Sick or stressed workers take more sick days, which, for a very small business, can have a big impact on your bottom line and cause massive disruption if you’ve got deadlines.

Run commuting (running to and from work instead of taking public transport) is becoming an increasingly popular form of exercise for busy workers who also want to save their pennies, so why not encourage your staff to do it by installing shower facilities? It’s simple initiatives like these which can create a working culture that promotes a healthy lifestyle.

About Euan Taylor

Euan Taylor works with leading health and business organisations. Euan creates expert content focusing on various aspects of running a business. Working with leading occupational health providers, Euan covers topics ranging from start-up businesses to maintaining a healthy lifestyle within business