In general, the laws apply to all businesses, no matter how small. As an employer, or a self-employed person, you are responsible for health and safety in your business. You need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of workplace dangers and provide a safe working environment.
Decide who will help you with your duties
As an employer, you must appoint a competent person to help you meet your health and safety duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.
You could appoint (one or a combination of):
- one or more of your workers
- someone from outside your business
Write a health and safety policy for your business
Describing how you will manage your health and safety in your business will let your staff and others know about your commitment to health and safety. This will be your health and safety policy. See write a health and safety policy for your business.
Manage the risks in your business
You should use a health and safety risk assessment as the main tool to identify workplace hazards. It will also allow you to put measures in place to control and minimise the hazards and risks you find. See health and safety risk assessment.
Consult your employees
You should find out what your employees and their representatives think about any changes that might affect their health and safety. See consult your employees on health and safety.
Provide training and information
Everyone who works for you needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. it's your duty to provide health and safety training and information.
Provide the right workplace facilities
Every workplace must meet some basic standards of comfort and sanitation. See what workplace facilities do you need to provide?
First aid, accidents and ill health
Under health and safety law you must report and keep a record of certain injuries, incidents and cases of work-related disease. See first aid, accidents and ill health.
Display the health and safety law poster
If you employ anyone, you must display the health and safety law poster, or provide each worker with a copy of the equivalent pocket card. You must display the poster where your workers can easily read it. Download the pocketcard (PDF, 182K).
The poster outlines British health and safety laws and includes a straightforward list that tells workers what they and their employers need to do. You could also add details of any employee safety representatives or health and safety contacts.
Register your business
If your business works with hazardous substances such as asbestos or explosives, or in a hazardous industry like construction or diving, you may need to apply for a licence or notify the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) or your local authority. For more information, see managing hazardous substances.
To notify the HSENI you can call the HSENI Helpline on Tel 0800 032 0121. See local council contact details in Northern Ireland.
Get insurance for your business
If your business has employees you will probably need employers' liability insurance. See liability insurance.
Keep up to date
Following news and events in your industry will help you keep your health and safety policies and risk assessments up to date. HSENI provide several services to businesses to help keep up to date:
Know your legal responsibilities
- Do you need a licence?
- Get the right business insurance
- Comply with the law when providing goods and services
- Know your customers' rights
- Distance and online selling rules
- Understand pricing legislation
- Buying goods from outside NI
- Selling goods outside NI
- GDPR compliance checklist
- Pay your business rates
- Understand staff contracts and your responsibilities
- Taking on contractors and subcontractors
- What you need to do about health and safety
- Know your legal obligations on pensions
Understand tax and VAT
Sell and market your products or services