Before you start with your own business and open the premises to the employees and visitors, you should get fully acquainted with the responsibilities and legal requirements that go along with it. The health and safety regulations, as well as environmental requirements have to be met when your business quarters and practices are concerned. Fortunately, in most cases they coincide with the common sense precautions and measures.
Register your business
The companies that deal with dangerous substances, such as asbestos, have to register their facilities with the workplace health and safety department in their country (the local office). Since hazardous industry usually needs operating licence, this is a mandatory step prior to production initiation.
This includes risk assessment and various safety measures related to the office layout, proper handling of materials and machinery and employee insurance, among other things. Adhering to legal requirements will help your retain happy and healthy staff, and evade legal prosecution for unsound practices.
While the law prescribes minimal health and safety standards for every business, we advise you to follow the guidebook in entirety (if applicable) to create optimal working conditions. Start by hiring a qualified risk assessment officer who will perform a thorough and adequate survey of your premises.
Before that, you can also pick a dependable and knowledgeable employee to pinpoint the security vulnerabilities (locations, substances and activities) that may not fall into the duties of the risk officials. This involves loose flooring and furniture, improper cable organisation and spillages, as well as exposure to unhealthy noise levels, dangerous chemicals, fire hazards and moving vehicles.
This will help you draw up a solid emergency and prevention plan you should keep it at hand in digital and written/printed form. It’s recommended to review your business environment two times a year at least, or whenever your business undergoes change.
Employees’ safety and health
Tending to your workers’ welfare is one of top priorities related to workplace conditions. You must obtain the most basic amenities such as clean toilets, hygienic paraphernalia and lockable closed stalls (especially if you have unisex bathrooms). Workers should have constant access to fresh drinking water, smartly arranged working stations of recommended size (11 m³ according to Australian regulations) and adequately air-conditioned and illuminated set-ups.
Apart from safeguarding your employees from the common health and safety hazards, the existence and unbiased enforcement of the anti-bullying and harassment policy is mandatory. Maintaining healthy interpersonal relations is crucial in staff retention, employee satisfaction and productivity.
As an employer, you’re the main person responsible for workplace safety and incident prevention, but choosing a few delegates to help you is highly advisable. With joined forces and training provided by the professionals from the local fire department and risk assessment officers, you’ll successfully teach your employees how to act in case of an accident.
For starters, equip your premises with sufficient number of first-aid kits and fire extinguishers. Create an emergency plan that includes a straightforward evacuation diagram in form of posters and brochures, and devise a reporting system and accident records. Don’t forget to include the needs of people with disabilities in your plan.
Last but not least, you should be aware that your business can be held liable for the adverse environmental impact, including noise, air and land pollution (gases, smoke, odours, spillage). Also, you should work to improve the sustainability of your business actions through energy-efficient practices and smart use of existing resources, like water and business supplies.
All sorts of waste your business produces (electronic, paper, chemicals, metals, etc.) should be properly contained, stored and promptly treated in the nearest recycling facility.
There’s a number of requirements you have to meet if you want to run an environmentally conscious business that adheres to safety and health regulations. To help you start on the right foot, we have provided you with a few handy pointers.