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Make sure your small business has appointed a health and safety officer, or else ...

by , 28 January 2013
'We're just a small company and we're careful, we don't need a health and safety officer.'

Sound familiar? Many smaller companies think this way.

Even the Armed Forces of Malta put off implementing a health and safety unit until a soldier died in training. You don't want to leave it too late. There are 13 responsibilities you need to immediately hand over to your health and safety officer!

It is not just the large, multinational construction companies that have to take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.
Although they may have significantly fewer resources, smaller companies must also do everything within their power to protect their employees' health and safety.
A health and safety unit has even been set up in the Armed Forces of Malta after a young soldier died during training, according to the Times of Malta website.
And it's not enough to just appoint a health and safety officer in name. 
It's not enough to just appoint a health and safety officer in name: there are 13 health and safety duties they need to perform!
In Wales, a small construction business owner has just received a fine of £2,500 for not being trained in the management of health and safety on construction sites, as reported on the Aviva Risk Management Solutions website.
In South Africa, you need to designate a health and safety representative in writing if you have more than 20 employees.
And there are 13 main duties for a health and safety officer, in addition to the obvious one of monitoring your employees' health and safety. These are explained by Christel Fouche in the Health and Safety Bulletin.
13 main duties of a health and safety officer
1. Develop, implement and maintain an effective programme and ensure compliance to satisfy the requirements of local legislation in terms of theOHS, COID and Environmental Conservation Acts.
2. Develop systems to ensure all employees comply with all relevant legal health and safety requirements.
3. Identify health and safety training needs, organise and co-ordinate safety training courses and prepare training material where appropriate.
4. Co-ordinate the monthly safety meeting.
5. Assist in appointment of health and safety representatives for all departments.
6. Communicate changes in health and safety and environment legislation to management.
7. Evaluate incident forms, surveys, audits to establish root causes and together with supervisors and managers concerned, formulate a plan of action to correct non-compliant behaviour or conditions.
8. Liaise with on-site contractors to ensure their compliance with company health and safety regulations and adherence to safety standards.
9. Conduct surveys and audits to identify and minimise the risk to company and employees.
10. Identify unsafe acts, conditions, and hazards, investigate root causes and identify corrective and preventative actions and report to management.
11. Co-ordinate at least two evacuation exercises per year to ensure that all employees become familiar with these procedures.
12. Assist with the formulation of emergency/contingency plans for natural disasters, industrial action, political unrest, fire, explosions and bomb threats.
13. Review and update emergency procedures as and when necessary.
Make sure your health and safety officer or representative follows these 13 steps to avoid injuries in your workplace.

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