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


This shows what a business is doing to identify and minimise causes

of injury and ill health to employees, customers and members of the


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


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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.