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Health and Safety for Startups – Start out on the right track

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by Startacus Admin

Neil Whitney, Health and Safety Consultant for CFS explains why UK startups need to take health and safety compliance and safety for startups

"For the majority of startup businesses, it's fair to say their main concern isn't likely to be Health and Safety.

Health and safety can often seem like a bit of a burden in terms of time, cost and, ultimately, lack of ROI. However, recent research has found that the cost of Health and Safety fines far outweigh the cost of compliance. A study composed by Arinite discovered that, in 2016, businesses paid an average of £115,440 in fines after being found guilty of health and safety breaches.

This can have a highly damaging effect on businesses, not just in terms of cost, but also brand reputation. It is important that startup businesses establish the basics for health and safety from the start. It can prove to be a far greater challenge to introduce safety procedures once a business has grown and expanded.

As a business owner, you are responsible for the health and safety of anyone that can be affected by your business. This can refer to employees, on site visitors, customers and the general public. In any industry, no matter what size or operations they undertake, there is always a risk of incident. It is essential that business owners pay attention to health and safety regulations to ensure they meet legal compliance.

Under Health and Safety legislation, business owners are obliged to designate a ‘competent’ person to be responsible for Health and Safety on site. The designated person must have sufficient knowledge of Health and Safety regulations to qualify as ‘competent’ for the role.

The most effective way to avoid a Health and Safety incident is to implement systems of prevention.

Initially, businesses should carry out a risk assessment to identify any potential hazards and establish who is at risk of harm. From this assessment, preventative measures can be implemented to reduce the risk of an incident occurring.

All employees must be made aware of any Health and Safety procedures in place. This can be achieved by ensuring employees have access to a Health and Safety Policy and receive sufficient training.

health and safety for startups

Health and Safety Policy

It is a legal requirement for any business with more than five employees to write down a Health and Safety Policy. Even for businesses with fewer than 5 employees, it is still advisable to create a document demonstrating that health and safety risks have been identified and precautionary measures have been implemented.

Risk Assessment

Regular risk assessments are essential in ensuring all potential hazards on a site are identified. This process allows businesses to identify who is at risk from what, and implement preventative measures to reduce the risk of an incident.

Process of a risk assessment: 

  • Identify the hazards
  • Determine who could be harmed and how
  • Assess the risks and take action
  • Make a record of the findings
  • Review the risk assessment

Fire Risk Assessment

A fire risk assessment forms the basis of all fire safety procedures and preventative actions. The assessment will review the working environment and provide recommendations for the necessary developments to achieve compliance with RRFSO regulations. A Fire Risk Assessment will cover: structural and passive fire protection,means of escape, emergency lighting, signs and notices, fire-fighting equipment and facilities, fire safety training.

With regards to fire safety equipment, requirements will vary depending on the premise. Examples of fire safety equipment include:

  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Fire detection system, including a fire alarm that is tested regularly
  • Emergency lighting
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Fire hose reels
  • Fire safety training for all members of staff
  • Fire Safety Signage

First Aid

It is really important that all employees are made aware of First Aid procedures – where equipment can be found and where qualified first aiders are located on and safety for startups

By law, business owners are obliged to maintain an accident book in which all incidents on premise are recorded. After an incident, it is essential that a ‘competent’ person is informed to then carry out a risk assessment.

First things to consider for Health and Safety:

• Have you considered the potential hazards that your business poses to employees, visitors or the general public?

• Have you created a Health and Safety Policy statement?

• Have staff been given necessary training?

• Are you providing employees with a safe workplace with adequate welfare facilities?

• If you are an employer, self-employed or in control of work premises, by law you must report work related accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences.

• If you have more employees on premise, you must display the health and safety law poster, or provide workers with the same information.

This article was written by CFS Health and Safety consultant Neil Whitney.

For more information on Health and Safety compliance for startups, CFS are offering a free telephone consultation to review your current level of compliance. They also have a range of Health and Safety Template packs designed specifically for small businesses. Tailored to your industry, these packs offer a quick and cost effective route to legal compliance for Health and Safety.


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Published on: 22nd August 2017

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