What are the health and safety responsibilities in a small business?
One-person business activities with no employees are not subject to health and safety requirements. The owner of such a company is not obliged to carry out occupational risk assessments related to the conducted activity, perform periodic medical examinations, and prepare job instructions.
Even when the entrepreneur is assisted by his spouse or a person from the first family relationship, he or she does not have to perform health and safety tasks. This is due to the applicable regulations – spouses running a household together, in the situation described above, do not have to enter into formal employment relationships, which means that the owner does not have obligations related to ensuring health and safety conditions.
If a self-employed person decides to hire an employee, the situation changes – additional obligations are imposed on the owner, as he becomes an employer and the provisions of the Labor Code, including those related to health and safety, begin to apply to him. Regardless of the number of employees, each employer must apply generally applicable regulations.
The employer’s statutory obligation is to organize health and safety training for employees – they must take place during their working hours and at the employer’s expense. Compulsory training includes:
- initial training organized when hiring a new employee, containing basic information on health and safety rules and a job instruction,
- periodic training.
Another duty of the employer is preventive health care, which requires preliminary, periodic and follow-up medical examinations.
The most important obligations related to health and safety in a small company employing employees are contained in Art. 207 par. 2 of the Labor Code. According to these regulations, the employer should:
- organize work in a way that ensures safe and healthy working conditions,
- ensure that the workplace complies with the provisions and rules of occupational health and safety,
- issue orders to remedy deficiencies in this regard and control the implementation of these orders,
- ensure the execution of orders, statements, decisions and orders issued by supervisory bodies over working conditions,
- ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the social labor inspector.