Gardening - Safety First
It's easy sometimes to forget certain obligations as a small business owner. When it's just perhaps you who has to visit clients, price work, do the work and then sort out the books. Therefore it's not surprising sometimes that certain things get put on the back burner, such as Health and Safety.
Over the past month I've been thinking about a lot of things, doing a good job for the clients in order to retain them, finding and securing new clients and with tools that would happily take your arm off; Health and Safety. Yes there is the paperwork side, H&S Policy Statement and Risk Assessments, but there is also the practical side. Do I have a first aid kit? What is in the first aid kit? Do I have the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)? Do I have the right signage for where I want to work? Am I doing enough/the right things?
So over the last couple of week I have been slowly getting on top of these things. The first aid kit not only has plasters but trauma dressings and saline solution for washing eyes and wounds. Hi-Viz is the order of the day when working in public spaces, as are cones and signs. Safety gloves, ear defence and eye protection are available and are to be worn when operating the machines, as well as the paperwork side.
For the more established gardening businesses this may be bread and butter stuff, I and would agree it should be. For the small, just starting out gardening business, this is all new and without the capital behind you to engage a H&S expert it can be a little daunting.
My approach has been:
Get a H&S Policy Statement - Generic ones can be downloaded from the internet and just insert your name.
Create a Risk Assessment - This is all common sense stuff, think about what the risks associated with your business are and how to avoid them.
Get the right gear - go through your risk assessment and look at what equipment you need to avoid the risks you have highlighted. Also think about PPE, First Aid and Work Practices and if you can't afford it all at once, make an action plan.
For me all this came to a head last week when I was asked to trim a hedge next to a busy road. Having cones and signs enabled me to stay safer (I say safer as some road users paid no notice to them, however most did) whilst working on the pavement. This also kept pedestrians safer by warning them that work was being undertaken. Having procedures in place meant that there was always someone holding the step ladder and I could the power tools confidently knowing that I had a compressive first aid kit.
I am fortunate to know a H&S expert through my local business networking group @BNIchattox who has been kind enough to help. For me, finding a little time to properly think about Health and Safety within the context of my gardening business has really helped me focus on the practical side of keeping everyone healthy and safe.