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What health and safety training do you need for your small business?

Did you know? In the UK, over 99% of all businesses in 2021 were small or medium (SME) sized businesses, i.e. employing between 0 to 249 employees. There are many things to consider when running a small business, and whilst it may not be at the top of every business owner’s to do list, health and safety is an important area to get right. After all, you could end up in trouble with the law if you get it wrong, potentially resulting in serious accidents or costly lawsuits.

Health and Safety – what you must do by law

This will depend on the nature of the business you operate in – for example, a construction business will have additional obligations when compared to an office-based workplace.

The overarching piece of legislation is the Health and Safety at Work Act, however as this is written in general terms, there are additional regulations available that provide more specific guidance.

Here’s a summary of the key points you must do in order to stay compliant:

  • You are responsible for the health and safety of anyone affected by your business. This means not just your team, but it also includes suppliers, visitors, customers and potentially even members of the public. This includes having suitable first aid facilities in case of an accident, as well as emergency procedures to follow. It’s not just the employer but also the employees who have a responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
  • Additional health and safety protections are needed for certain groups of people. This includes people with disabilities, young people under 18, pregnant women, as well as food-serving businesses. Also, businesses operating in certain, potentially higher-risk, industries such as construction or manufacturing, need to comply with additional regulations.
  • You must have employers’ liability insurance
  • You must have a written health and safety policy if you employ five or more people. This outlines the business’s general approach to health and safety and should include concrete steps you are taking to comply with the law.
  • You must conduct risk assessments for your place of work. Risk assessments need to identify potential hazards, the likelihood of these occurring, and how you are going to minimise the risk on a practical level. Risk assessments should also identify training requirements.
  • Appropriate health and safety information and training must be provided for all staff. This is so they know how to carry out their work safely. It’s best to keep a record of who’s completed the training to make it easier to identify when refresher training is needed. We look at more specific training requirements below.
  • You need to display the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) poster on Health and Safety Law: What You Need to Know. You also need to display safety signs where appropriate, such as ‘Fire Assembly Point’ or 'Danger - Electric shock risk'
  • Health and safety legislation stipulates that employers must provide for their staff’s welfare. This includes things like making a rest space available, having suitable toilet facilities, access to drinking water and changing facilities for those required to wear a staff uniform or protective clothing.
  • Serious accidents need to be reported following RIDDOR rules, and an incident book should be kept.

Health and Safety Training – what you need to know

First Aid

Whilst it is not a legal requirement that all employers have a fully trained first aider, there must be someone appointed to take charge of first aid in the workplace. This could mean to arrange for first aid, rather than administer it.

The minimum first aid requirement in every workplace is:

  • a first aid box (including the appropriate equipment)
  • an appointed first aider - someone to be in charge of first aid in the workplace
  • first aid information for all employees

Depending on the size and nature of your business, we would strongly recommend having a trained First Aider.

Manual Handling

Manual handling training is a legal requirement for those employers whose staff have to do any lifting, lowering, pulling or pushing. Appropriate training will help raise awareness and reduce the risks associated with manual handling, such as developing repetitive strain disorders or musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s).

Display Screen Equipment (DSE)

With a rise in employees using DSE such as PC’s, laptops and smartphones comes a requirement to carry out a DSE workstation assessment. This applies to all workers who use DSE for longer than one hour at a time. The aim is to make sure that employees are comfortable at their workstation and aren’t straining to look at their screens etc.

Fire Safety Training

If you have more than one employee in your business, it is a legal requirement to provide fire safety training. Fire evacuation procedures including the regularity of fire drills and location of assembly points should be detailed in your health and safety policy, and form part of the induction of any new staff members.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Training

Although there is no legal requirement to have equality, diversity and inclusion training, it is now common practice to offer staff members this training.


If you’re interested in training for your small or medium sized business, have a look at our special bundle offer:

  • 3 hrs First Aid in the Workplace (normally £75.00 - 3 hrs)
  • 2 hrs Manual Handling (full course normally £75.00 - 3 hrs)
  • 1 hr Fire Safety Awareness - how to use an extinguisher (full course normally £75.00 - 3 hrs)
  • 1 e-learning Health and Safety course - (normally from £20 upwards)

Normally £150.00 +VAT per delegate & certificate SPECIAL OFFER £127.50 +VAT per delegate & certificate for course on 26 September 2022 at our Training Academy, Poling, West Sussex.

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