Health and safety is a key consideration for the private practitioner.

Firstly – as a business, you will need to comply with health and safety law. It doesn’t matter if you’re a sole trader or an employer, and whether you see your clients at home or in separate premises.

Secondly – the health and safety of you and your clients is one of your most important professional concerns.

But where do you start? The first thing you should do (after reading this blog post, of course) is to visit the Health and Safety Executive website – it has a wealth of information for businesses.

You can also have a look at the Private Practice Hub where you’ll find articles on issues such as risk management, insurance and well being.

Here’s a quick overview of some key points…

1. Carry out a risk assessment

As a private practitioner your risk assessment will cover any risk or hazard to you, your clients, your employees, and anyone who visits your premises.

These will include:

  • physical hazards such as loose wiring, obstacles or spillages
  • health hazards such as poor seating, poor lighting, poor ventilation or inadequate toilet facilities
  • risk to yourself from clients – for example you may wish to make sure that someone else is at the premises when you see clients
  • risk to your data – for example keeping filing cabinets locked, using computer passwords and backing up data (find out more about data protection here).

2. Make sure you comply with fire safety legislation

Fire safety laws apply to all commercial buildings, as well as buildings where the public have access. So, if you are seeing clients in your own home, this applies to you, too. You will need to:

  • carry out a fire risk assessment, to identify any dangers and risks
  • make sure you have adequate fire extinguishers
  • establish what should happen in the event of a fire

3. Create a health and safety policy

By law, if you have five or more employees, you need to have a written health and safety policy.

However, it’s good practice to have one regardless, especially as you will be welcoming clients into your home or premises. Your health and safety policy should:

  • demonstrate that you have carried out a risk assessment
  • name who is responsible for health and safety matters
  • show how you have minimised the risks
  • indicate what should happen in case of an accident
  • outline what to do in the event of a fire

4. Display the Health and Safety Law poster

If you are an employer, you will need to display a Health and Safety Law poster on your premises. You can find out more on the Health and Safety Executive website.

5. Have clear first aid arrangements

As a minimum, you should have a first aid box, and an appointed person to take care of first aid (either yourself or an employee). You should also display information to employees about your first aid arrangements.

6. Get insurance

The right insurance will protect both you and your clients in the event of an accident. We’ve written an article about different types of insurance for private practitioners on the Private Practice Hub – you can read it here.

What health and safety issues have you encountered? Do you have any queries, or some advice for other practitioners? We’d love to read your comments.