"I employ just eight staff but I'm keen to set up a health and safety system for my business. I have been in business two years so I don't have a lot to spend. Can I achieve this at minimal cost?"



Nicola Urquhart, injury prevention consultant at ACC's Auckland branch, replies:

With the introduction of the Health and Safety in Employment Act (1992), all businesses, regardless of size, are required to have a health and safety management system in place.

Establishing a health and safety system within a small business need not be an expensive process. There are several free or low-cost resources available to help you and it can be quite painless.

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To help get you started, ACC, with Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH), have published Improving Workplace Safety and Health for Small Business, a free resource designed specifically for small business owners.

It explains the key elements of a basic health and safety system, including hazard management, emergencies and incident investigation, training, and supervision. It walks you through legislative requirements and offers practical solutions for implementing a health and safety system.

The beauty of the small business tool is that not only does it provide you with a framework to get started, it is also adaptable to the size and nature of your business. In this way, you can create the system to suit you.

ACC also recognises that elements of health and safety management, in particular the management of hazards, is something common to all those within a specific industry. So for companies operating in the forestry, farming, construction, boat building, road freight and education sectors, there are resources that have been adapted to fit their specific industries. If you work in these sectors, you will then have a head start in developing your hazard management plan.

The small business tool is not just for new businesses, however. If you are an established business, you can also use it to review your systems and to ensure they are operating effectively.

Many businesses establish a great health and safety system but forget to regularly review how it is working. This will help to ensure that your system is still achieving its aim.

For more free information, you can refer to the ACC website www.acc.co.nz/injury-prevention. It provides full information on setting up a health and safety system, and has useful links to health and safety services.

As part of its Injury Prevention Service, ACC also provides free training sessions for small business owners looking to establish or improve their health and safety management systems.

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These regular sessions focus on the implementation of the small business tool, and provide a friendly and open forum to discuss how to implement this successfully. Phone your local ACC injury prevention consultant to find out more.

With all the costs and demands facing small businesses, it is easy to lose sight of the purpose of implementing a health and safety management system; that is the safety of employees. However, with little investment, and the commitment of time and energy, not only can you have control over the injuries impacting on your business, but you can also gain an advantage in the market.

Larger companies are today requesting health and safety plans to be submitted as part of the tender process, while others are achieving local recognition and industry kudos for efforts towards health and safety.

So get your health and safety plan under way today and make an investment towards a healthy, safe and successful business.



* For more information you can contact Nicola Urquhart, injury prevention consultant at ACC Auckland branch, by telephone on (09) 915-8376 or email at Nicola.urquhart@acc.co.nz, or you can phone 0800 THINKSAFE (0800 844-657)