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What Do Startups Need to Know About Health & Safety Law?

While the language of health and safety law might not fit in with the optimistic and inspirational language of startups, you can’t build a successful startup without health and safety. Faking it 'til you make it is one thing, but being sued for gross negligence because you willingly ignored health and safety law is quite another. Read ON!
Health and safety law differs from country to country and industry to industry. It’s for that reason that each startup should be clued up on the health and safety law of its particular industry. To help future startups with their journey, here’s what every startup needs to know about health and safety law.

Don’t Believe The Hype About “Disruptive” Startups

Startups are often eager to label themselves as “disruptive”. It’s a word which conjures up the image of a groundbreaking business idea which completely upturns an industry. However, more often than many people would like to admit, a “disruptive” startup is just a business which winds up breaking the law. That’s certainly the case with Uber.

Uber’s business plan appears to be “do illegal business, make money, and pay off the fines and the court cases as they come in”. Really, this isn’t a plan at all. As such, it shouldn’t be something that startups emulate.

Uber’s business model doesn’t guarantee the safety of its passengers. It also means that the company isn’t accountable for when health and safety laws — or any kind of laws — are broken by its drivers. Some startups view this as normal, but it’s really not — especially when it is possible to disrupt an industry without ignoring the law.

Netflix is a perfect example of this. The rise of the online streaming service has put film studios and television production studios into panic mode, as the company continues to bite into their profits and viewing figures by offering something completely different.

Netflix’s business model is disruptive, but it’s also safe, legal and clever. While there is some value in being disruptive, the aim should be to be better than your competition — not to bend the law further than they can. Rather than valuing “disruptive innovation”, startups should value intelligent, stable, law-abiding innovation.

Your Business May Be International, But The Law Is Local

One of the most exciting trends in startups is the possibility for small businesses to be international using the internet. Remote working technology, cloud storage and video calling software have gone from strength to strength recently. As such, it’s not uncommon for a startup or a small business to have staff working in several different countries.
If your startup plans on making the most out of the remote working options the internet provides, there are a few things you need to bear in mind. For example, if your business is based in the UK and you have more than five people in your business, HSE recommends that you write down a risk assessment. However, if some of those people are based in other countries, the issue becomes more complicated.The moral of the story is that, if your business is going to be international, you need to become proficient in the health and safety laws of each country and each industry you operate in. It’s not enough to assume that it won’t be an issue because your business is small. As mentioned above, HSE recommends a risk assessment for businesses with just five people.

Racking Inspection Courses and Other Safety Training Programs

While a startup might rather spend their money on sales training or inspirational talks from another industry leader, safety courses are often either very important or a legal requirement. Racking inspection courses, for example, are vital for any business with a storage system which includes some kind of racking.

If your product is physical and if your business is some kind of commerce or eCommerce outlet, this will likely be the case for you. The CDM Regulations in the UK, combined with HSE’s recommendations on racking inspection safety, are what make racking inspection courses so crucial.For each country, health and safety law regarding training is different.

What’s more, each industry will need different kinds of workplace training. So while you might not need racking inspection courses, health and safety training is worth looking into.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 16th September 2017.
Justin O' Sullivan
Justin O' Sullivan is a contributing writer at Inspiration Unlimited eMagazine

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