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    How Do I Manage Health & Safety as a Work at Home Business?

    Ever wondered what health and safety has to do with your work at home business? Perhaps you thought you didn’t need to worry about it? Maybe you didn’t even know it was a thing you should be thinking about? Or are you super stressed over it and wondering with WorkSafe NZ was going to come knocking on your door?

    Let’s start off by clearing up all the misconceptions around health and safety as a work at home business. Then we’ll explain the types of things you will need to get in place to comply with the new Health and Safety at Work Act.

    Do Home Businesses Need a Health & Safety Plan?

    April 2016 saw the introduction of the new Health and Safety at Work Act. This has meant that home based businesses and employees who work at home are required to have a health and safety plan in place. It doesn’t have to be large and focused on every little detail, but you do need one.

    Some of the common myths about the health and safety act include:

    • Every injury needs to be reported – this is just not true. Only serious injuries need to be reported to WorkSafe.
    • Small businesses do not need a health and safety plan – again this is incorrect. If you run your business from home, you are a PCBU or person conducting a business or undertaking. It is your responsibility to keep yourself, any employees and visitors safe in your place of work.
    • Only big businesses can be fined for unsafe practices – nope, not true. Recently small nail boutiques in Auckland have been either officially warned or fined for using unsafe chemicals in their salons. All businesses or sole traders must ensure they are keeping themselves, customers and employees safe.

    What Health & Safety Documents Does Your Home-Based Business Need?

    This depends on your business. If it falls into the high risk category, such as working with chemicals, biological hazards, heavy machinery or heights, then you will need more in-depth risk identification and planning put into place. If you are a sole trader who sews baby clothes to sell at markets or on your Facebook page, then there will be less need for in-depth plans. However, you will still need to have plan on how you will reduce your risks, such as tripping over cords, using your machine and OOS/RSI avoidance.

    WorkSafe has got a free downloadable PDF which gives you advice on writing health and safety documents for your work at home business. ACC’s website also has advice on how small businesses can prevent injuries. If you prefer not to create your plan yourself, our insurance expert Jon-Paul Hale from Willowgrove Insurance can have a plan written up specifically for your business.

    If you are a Network NZ Foundation Member, you can log in on our website and download our DIY Framework from our Resources section to help you write your own Health and Safety Plan.

    Be sure to join our FREE Business Support Group! We have over 2200 New Zealand Small Business Owners for you to connect and collaborate with!