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Health and Safety

Notes on looking after people and property

The health and safety of you, your family, any people you employ and of your customers must be given the highest priority. Failure to take health and safety seriously can lead to catastrophic problems, including legal action and closure of your business!

Health – generally applied to working conditions.

This is a massive subject but basically it means you must take action to ensure that you, your family or any employees do not come to any physical harm or experience any serious accidents in conducting your business.

For some activities protective clothing, gloves, ear plugs and safety glasses may be necessary. Equipment may need special guards to prevent injury.

You should look carefully over your premises and make a list of all possible risks, then make changes to reduce the risks, or at the very least make sure anyone working for you understands where the risks are.

Waste materials, spillages or breakages must be cleared away regularly and not allowed to accumulate.

Safety – generally applied to your goods or services.

Whatever you sell or supply must be safe to use at all times. This includes the care you take to ensure there is no contamination or foreign material present and there are no spoilage or pathogenic micro-organisms entering or surviving in your products and clear directions to your customers, usually in writing on the packaging, how your products can be used safely.

If you provide a service for example, child care – you must obviously ensure your premises are secure, that there are no physical hazards which could hurt children, parents or staff and that there are proper procedures for child protection.

A large proportion of microenterprises will be based on agricultural products, which if offered to customers as food or drink have the potential to cause illness or even death through the presence of various microorganisms which can cause food poisoning. A basic guide to food poisoning risks is available to download as a PDF from Practical Action.

If you are planning to sell any type of food or drink, especially if made in a home based business it is vitally important you understand these risks and how to control them. It is better to avoid production of high risk products at least until full training in food hygiene and process control can be received.

Health and safety guidance will be included in each microenterprise profile, but it must be emphasised that it will be your responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your business practice.