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Health & Safety

The Working Environment
Working Practices
People, Health and Welfare
Premises and Insurance
Planning Permission & Building Regulations
Support & Finance

It is imperative that you understand what the importance of health and safety is to your business. There are legal responsibilities that must be adhered to in order to protect the employees of the business and other stakeholders also, such as customers and suppliers. Try to improve your reputation regarding environmental issues, plus how to reduce the costs you place on the environment. Aim to plan ahead to ensure that these measures are enforced correctly. Ensure that your business is properly insured, and to make sure that you can maintain high standards of occupational health.

Click here and you will gain access to an interactive tool that enables you to assess how well you are handling your health and safety policies. There is the facility available here to compare your business with other businesses anonymously to see how well you perform in comparison. There is information available to educate you on how to put corrective measures in place if they are required

As a business, you should operate a health, safety and environment policy. Such a policy should detail how you will manage the three issues mentioned. The policy should be written down if you employ 5 or people, otherwise it need just be verbal. Either way the principles remain the same. Find out how to create one; what you should know before doing so, what should be included in it, and how to monitor the effectiveness of it.

Whether self employed, a Partnership or a PLC, all business must carry out and maintain risk assessments. If properly conducted, the risk is minimised to harming the environment and therefore reduces the possibility of you having to pay fines or even be sued. Identify hazards and evaluate any risks being taken, and keep a record of assessments and how to review it regularly.

Communicating your health and safety procedures is just as important as having them in the first place. All stakeholders of your business should be aware of your procedures, this includes providing the relevant training for staff and displaying the correct signs where they need to be. You should provide the correct information in guidebooks and ensure these are distributed appropriately and ensure you consult with your employees and inform them of any changes in legislation that affect anyone or anything connected with your business.

Most businesses who employ people must register for health and safety with an agency. Depending on the type of business you run, depends on whether you register with your local authority or with the Health and Safety Executive. This link provides the registration form you need to complete for either and details if indeed you do need to actually register, and what happens next.

It is beneficial to a business to establish a health, safety and environmental management system. This would help to comply with many legal obligations a business faces, as well as making sure that all your employees know the right way to do things. It enables you to continually improve your health, safety and environmental issues as it provides a basis for the management system to grow on.

As a business, you are eligible to receive a visit from the Health and Safety Executive. Generally this will be a routine visit where the Inspector will assess your level of Health and Safety to ensure that you are providing a safe environment for working in. You can also receive a visit from a health and safety awareness officer whose role is to provide you with advice. The information provided on this page explains how to prepare for a visit and what to do if follow-up action is necessary, and also how to contest a notice that may have been served against you.

Accidents can happen in the workplace at any time in any place, and when they do occur, you have a legal responsibility to record them and/or report them. If an accident occurs in the workplace then it should be reported to either the Incident Contact Centre (Telephone number 0845 3009923) or directly to your local enforcing authority. You will know who this is when you register your business for health and safety.

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The Working Environment
There are minimum health and safety standards that must be adhered to if you are running your own business. These involve making sure that you have adequately clean sanitation facilities, that you carry out risk assessments, ensure all your staff are properly trained, and have sufficient fire safety standards in place.

Being in the hairdressing industry, you may choose to work from home also. As this is part of your business, there are procedures that need to be followed. Your insurance, mortgage and taxes may be affected, so it is essential that if you intend to use your home as your workplace that you use this guide to make sure you think about all the important aspects that could affect you.

It is a legal requirement to provide minimum standard working conditions for your employees. These include toilet facilities, communal areas and rest areas and issues are covered here concerning smoking policies that you may adopt if you wish to. It would also be assumed that as an employer you would like to make the conditions for your staff as comfortable as possible as there are links between this and productivity. It is also important that you consider the facilities you provide for your customers, for example, the sanitation provided and the common areas to them. Again, the more comfortable these are for your customer, the better the impression this gives of your business.

As part of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, policies should be drawn up about smoking, drugs and alcohol abuse and employees encouraged to follow them carefully. Find out how to identify if there are any problems and how to deal with them accordingly, as well as direction of where to go to for advice and support.

As a hairdressing business, it is imperative that you manage harmful substances in the safest way possible. Risk assessments should be carried out regularly to ensure that the safest procedures are in place whilst products are being used and the greatest care taken when they are being disposed of to ensure that no harm is coming to any employee, customer or the general public. It should also be considered how some products that are frequently used in salons could have an impact on the environment if not managed correctly. If you have any concerns or are unsure about any of the products you are using, the HSE website provides detailed information that will help you. You should also be familiar with how to identify any risks that may be a result of you using hazardous substances and how to control these.

Most businesses in some shape or form produce waste. And waste has an impact on the environment as it can potentially cause pollution. Make sure that you manage waste and pollution effectively and details your legal responsibilities with regards to how you can prevent and manage waste and pollution. Also abiding by these policies and promoting your business to do so can reap the benefits of obtaining a good corporate image and also may save you money.

Salons will probably dispose of electrical equipment on a regularly as items become obsolete or are faced with general wear and tear from being used on a regular basis. Consequently, you have responsibilities to dispose of old equipment correctly. The introduction of the WEEE Directive (effective now, from 1st January 2007) has added pressure onto business to ensure they comply with the new regulations.

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Working Practices
Even though as a salon you are not dealing with food as a product, it would still be thought that the business has the facilities for its staff to store produce. As a result, you should be aware of food hygiene regulations because violation of these could cause harm to your customers. Be aware of legislation regarding food safety, cross contamination and what to do if you come across someone who has an allergy. This could quite easily be passed on through the hands unknowingly and so it is important to be up to speed on what to do just in case and make this information readily available to your employees.

As a hairdressing salon, it would be expected that your staff will need protecting from certain substances that they deal with, for example, bleach. As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide this protection. Make sure you buy the necessary equipment to protect you and your staff and that all the measures are maintained to a safe level.

As an employer you are liable for any accidents that have been caused on your premises that could have been avoided through enforcement of health and safety legislation. You can take easy steps to minimise accidents that could occur. It is also in your best interests to avoid accidents as they cost your business money, and in turn this can affect your productivity.

It is important as a business that you fulfil your legal and health and safety obligations to store your materials correctly as to not endanger any of your staff or customers. Doing this can also result in you looking good as you may reduce pollution and wastage. Use shelves for storage, know what the risks involved are when storing goods and how to go about storing any dangerous or hazardous materials.

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People, Health and Welfare
As a business, you should manage occupational health and welfare. This involves taking the time as an employer to prevent the well-being of your staff and try your best to prevent injuries and illnesses. This can range from helping to manage workloads and actively decrease stress levels to drawing up policies on drugs and alcohol in the workplace. Key occupational health concerns are bullying in the workplace, drug and alcohol policies, stress, and the controlling of hazardous substances.

This link provides information to employers regarding hours, rest breaks and the working week. This involves how long all employees are entitled to rest for during the day and where, and what is the legal amount of hours to be worked in any one week. There are different policies for different age groups of employees, for example, children under 16 are entitled to longer breaks and are not allowed to work as many hours as adults in any given week. There is also strict legislation that must be adhered to if the employee is still in full-time education. This section also explains how it is best to manage the hours your staff put in and how important it is to keep on top of your records.

Some salons will employ their staff through Agencies. It is important to understand the health and safety issues surrounding these employees as you need to be responsible for them in some ways. This can be resolved by ensuring you have a good relationship with the agencies you deal with and that health and safety policies are communicated effectively as well as ensuring that risk assessments are carried out. It is imperative that you monitor all working hours and any incidences that occur so you can ensure that you, the employee and the agency are all protected under the relevant legislation.

Young people are classified as those under the age of 25. If you employ young people then there are legal responsibilities that you have to adhere to. You have to ensure that they are receiving the appropriate training and if under 18, that they are receiving the correct education (if they are still in full-time employment). Consequently, this affects the hours they are eligible to work and the break times they are entitled to, in addition to the hours they are permitted to work in any one week and on consecutive days.

Recruiting and employing disabled people can open your business up to many opportunities. You are able to recruit along a wider scale just as the result of making small changes, if any, to your business.

Hairdressing salons should be aware of ways to try and prevent repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) and upper limb disorders (ULDs). These come about by employees being involved in a wide range of activities, most commonly associated with work that effects the neck, shoulders and arms, including hands, wrists, fingers and elbows. As this clearly could and does affect hairdressers, you should always try to minimise the risk of your employees contracting any one of the more than 20 different types of ULDs. Make sure you how to look out for the causes, and how to track how well you are minimising the risks once procedures have been implemented. You should also train your staff to avoid contracting ULDs.

As a business you should be aware of what First Aid is and have set procedures in place in case anyone on your premises requires the attention of a first aider. There should always be a person present who is appointed to take charge of first aid. It is essential that you assess the needs of your business to enable you to cater for the adequate first aid requirements. For example, if you are a salon with minimum risk, you simply need to have a fully stocked first aid box, but if you are a more elaborate salon, you may need to employ a qualified first aider. Make sure you know what should be included at all times in your first aid box, any training that may need to be given, and how to record any incidents that may occur.

Dealing with and resolving stress related issues is important for the success of your business. Stress can be damaging to your business as it increases sickness absence and decreases productivity and morale. Try to understand what stress is, and what are the common causes. It is important that as an employer you know what to do if stress arises in the workplace and how to tackle it in any way you can.

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Premises and Insurance
A key decision that needs to be made when you start up in business is whether you should rent or buy. Renting business premises allows you to have more physical capital allowing you to invest into the needs and requirements of the business as opposed to the bricks and mortar. It effectively means that you have less of your capital tied up in assets and consequently means that if you wish to relocate your business you have the flexibility to do so. It is crucial to the success of your business that you evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of both buying and renting before you make a decision about which to do.

Advantages of renting
You are able to agree the period of your contract dependent on your business needs. This means that you are not tied down to any ownership agreements which enables you to have a greater degree of flexibility. This allows you to negotiate with your landlord on renewal dates and end dates and also possibly the cost.

In a financial sense, when you rent you are not being exposed to the rises in interest rates (except maybe when your rent comes up for review which probably wouldn’t be for at least 12 months anyway). You will also not be directly affected by the falls in property prices.

Renting often means that you have less of a responsibility for the actual building. You will have a landlord who will probably carry out all your maintenance, most definitely to the exterior of the building, and you may be responsible for any repairs in the interior.

In order to ensure that you find the correct business premises for the needs of your business, you can employ a Commercial Agent. They have all the knowledge about the property in your area and will work to find what is most suitable for you. They effectively work as an intermediary between you and the landlord/seller, and will keep you updated of any new or forthcoming developments. It is worth bearing in mind that they will expect to be paid commission and that as they are not a stakeholder in your business, they may not be as passionate as you are about finding the perfect premises, so just make sure that you have regular contact with them and ensure they fully understand what you are looking for.

As the tenant of a rented property, you will have some responsibilities for the premises, but more importantly for the people who use the building. You will have to abide to all the health and safety regulations and comply with gas, fire and electrical safety legislation. Be sure that you and your landlord make a contract in writing for who is responsible for doing what as far as all these issues are concerned, for example, who will pay for and provide the training, and who will provide the literature. Some of these responsibilities can be decided mutually whereas others are enforceable by law as a leasehold agreement is legally binding.

As you do not own the property, ensue that you run by any changes you would like to make with the owner. For example, if you would like to change any features or extend, you will have to have their permission. If any of the changes you intend to make require planning permission, this cannot be granted without the owner’s consent anyway. If you do not gain their authorisation, the landlord can make you reinstate the property which will be returning it to its original appearance. Obviously this could prove to be extremely costly. Check before you sign the tenancy agreement that there is no pending work to be done on the property. You could find yourself eligible for the cost if you are the tenant when this work actually gets round to being carried out.

Ensure that you note down when you will have rent reviews and break clauses so that you can discuss any issues you or your landlord may have and this gives you the opportunity to try and sort them out before the lease period is expired and you will have to decide whether to renew or not. If you would like to end your contract, the chances are your landlord may not let you until the expiry date is up. In this situation, you can arrange to sublet (where you sublease to another client but you remain liable) or assign (when a third party will take over the tenancy agreement).

If you have a lot of capital to invest, the idea of buying business premises may seem more appealing as in the long run this can be cheaper and you can do whatever you like to the property as it will be yours to own once the mortgage repayments have been made. As with renting, there are advantages and disadvantages to buying and it is important you make an informed decision. Buying can be a lengthy and difficult legal process and so here is some information to help you and advise you.

Most business that are just starting out will not have the capital to buy a property straight away but that does not mean that it shouldn’t be looked into. You automatically gain the freedom to do with the building as you wish (obviously within reason) meaning you can gain any profit if you sell the business and are not tied to any contracts if you decide to move.

You immediately have a greater financial commitment when you own property and have a lot of money tied up as opposed to what you could be using to invest. Any alterations that may need to be made to the property are automatically in your hands as opposed to that of your landlord and you are definitely responsible for all the health and safety of the building and regulations. You are also committed to mortgage repayments and if you fail to meet these then your property could be taken away from you.

For a salon this would be to buy into a chain of salons such as Toni & Guy or Saks. The most common type of franchising is called a business format franchise. This is when the owner of the business will grant a license for another person to use their idea and the products and service will be sold under the franchise trade name. In return for this, the franchisee (the other person) will probably pay an initial fee and then a percentage of the sales. The franchisee will then own the business premises that it runs but all marketing strategies will be determined by the franchisor.

There are advantages and disadvantages, and all should be carefully considered before you decide what to do.

The idea is proven and likely to be successful. You can therefore determine the success of other franchises before deciding;
You can use an established brand name;
You will gain support from the franchisor which often will include any necessary training that needs to be given;
Another franchise will not be sold in the same region that you are based therefore you have exclusive rights to it in your area;
It may be easier to finance the business as banks will probably look at it as already being a successful business;
There may be an existing customer base, in which case you will not have to invest as much time and money into creating one, you can go straight into the upkeep of it;
You will already have established supplier links.

The agreement you make when you buy the franchise may mean that you cannot run the business entirely as you want to;
There are ongoing costs that you have to pay to the franchisor in royalties for everything you sell;
If you wish to sell the business at any point, you man incur difficulties in doing so as you can only sell on to a person that is approved by the franchisor.

There are few things you need to consider about yourself as well as the business opportunity that will help you decide whether owning a franchise is the best route for you to go down. For example, if you want to be your own boss, running a franchise will theoretically mean that there is somebody above you. Don’t presume that because the franchise is a successful one that it will necessarily be successful in your area, make sure that you do your own adequate market research and assess its previous (if any) financial records. Ensure that you still draw up a business plan, and do not commit yourself to anything (this involves putting any money down) until you are 100% sure.

Make certain that you seek legal advice with reference to any contracts etc. A typical contract should include information on how long the franchise will last for and if there will be any opportunity for renewal, what the costs will be – the initial ones, then the royalty costs and how often will these be paid and how are they calculated, what support you will receive from the franchisor and what, if any, restrictions will be placed on how you run the business, make sure it is clear about what happens if you decide to sell the franchise.

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Planning Permission and Building Regulations
If you wish to make any changes to the premises you are operating from, for example, building, extending or changing the external appearance or original intended use, then you must obtain planning permission and building regulations from your local council. If you don’t fully own the business then you must inform any other parties that you are applying for planning permission, and if the leaseholder is not a part of your business but they have seven years or more left of the lease then they must be informed also.

There are 2 types of planning permission that can be obtained. Outline permission is for a new building to see whether the principle is acceptable before the construction of the building is started. If this is accepted then you have to get reserved matters (approval of the details) before the building is begun. This type of permission will last for 3 years so you must ensure that reserved matters are submitted before this runs out. Full permission is applicable if you want to change the use of a building quickly and this is valid for 5 years.

It would be advisable to check your plans for change or expansion with a planning officer and also be prepared to share your plans with anybody else who may be affected, for example, local businesses or residents to see if they have any obvious objections. When your plan has been submitted, it is likely that your local authority will contact those who may be affected to gain their views and your application will probably appear in your local newspaper so be prepared for public exposure.

When it comes to actually applying, you will need to submit 3 copies of your plans and application form and proof that you own the premises. It will be decided whether your planning permission has been granted at either a planning committee held by your local authority which you may attend, or a planning officers will do it without the need for a meeting to be held. You should expect to hear back within 8 weeks of submitting your application, although obviously more complicated applications can take longer. If the decision is to take longer than 8 weeks, then the authority should write to you to gain your consent to extend this time. If this is not acceptable, you can “appeal on grounds of non determination”.

If your planning permission has been refused you must be given the reasons as to why. You should ask the planning department if there are any ways in which your plans can be modified in order for them to be accepted. You are able to submit modified plans within 12 months that you will not be charged for.
If you wish to make an appeal it must be done within 6 months to the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Building regulations are necessary whether or not planning permission is needed when building work is being carried out. This can include fitting toilets or putting insulation into a cavity wall, as well as demolishing a wall inside the premises. Areas covered by building regulations include hygiene, fire safety and access to the building, and although the builder carrying out the work is responsible for making sure they meet building regulations, it is your responsibility to check the compliance of the regulations in the first place. If you are buying an existing business premises, seek the advice of a chartered surveyor as you must check that it already complies with the regulations.

Any business that provides goods or services to the general public must take on legal responsibilities to ensure they have access and facilities for disabled people. There are approximately ten million disabled people in the United Kingdom and it is imperative that you do not discriminate against them in any shape or form, this involves your businesses premises posing any physical barrier to entry that may cease a disabled persons entry to your property.

Security and crime prevention is essential to a business to keep costs down. When crimes are committed, stock can be lost which costs the business, property can be damaged and there can be a very adverse effect on the morale of staff. Make the best use of security alarms, CCTV, locks and the security of your money and stock. Try your best to deter crime and deal with any emergencies that may arise as soon as possible in the safest possible way.

Businesses can take precautions to avoid fires and have procedures in place to control emergencies. Fire safety and risk assessment avoids lots of deaths and injuries every year within businesses, and saves them millions of pounds in repairs, compensation and insurance premiums. In October 2006, new legislation in England and Wales has replaced old laws, resulting in fire certificates now not being needed and the emphasis being shifted towards the prevention of fires. All business owners bear the responsibility of ensuring that if a fire was to break out, people on the premises have a means to escape. Ensure you know the equipment that is required and what the evacuation procedures are as well as fire risk assessments, and how to record, review and revise all your fire safety plans.

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It is important that as a business you cover yourself in all the appropriate ways by taking out insurance cover. You will need two types of insurance advisor; an insurance broker and an independent financial advisor. Look in to how you should choose your advisors and how you should present your risks to them, as well as how you should manage your relationship with them once it has been established.

You must take out general insurance to insure your business and its assets against damage and/or loss. Find out how much it can cost; both are dependent on the risk your business poses for any potential damage and how much it would cost the insurance company to pay out in the event of a claim, and shop around for the cheapest you can get that covers all the most important things.

Certain insurance policies will insure your employees lives and health if there was to be any injuries sustained, illnesses or death. In the event of any of these things happening there can be serious financial consequences brought to your business or your employees. It is therefore important that you seek put an insurance policy that is best for you.

As a business owner, if you employ anyone, you will need to have employers’ liability compulsory insurance. This is your legal responsibility as you are liable if an employee or a member of the public sustains an injury because you have been negligent. This insurance is used to pay for any legal costs or compensation that may need to be paid out in the event of any negligence occurring. Employers’ liability compulsory provides a means of security to businesses as without it, if it was needed, could put your business into great financial difficulty. It also provides assurance to employees if they know their employer is covered by it as it means they will always be able to receive compensation, even if the business fails.

This link provides an interactive tool to help you decide what type of insurance your business requires. There are so many available it is important you have the right ones and also that are you not paying unnecessary premiums for ones that you don’t.

The health and safety performance indicator is another interactive tool provided here to allow you to assess how well you are handling your health and safety policies. If you are handling your health and safety well, this can bring down your insurance premiums, and it also results in you sustaining a good corporate image as you will be seen to be looking after the well-being of your employees and customers.

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Support and Finance
Environmental Measures to save money

Using energy efficiently can provide numerous benefits to your business. You will undoubtedly save money which in turn will increase the profitability of your business and therefore its competitive advantage. And you will portray a good corporate image as you do your share to help the environment by contributing towards helping decrease climate change.

You can also decrease costs to your business by reducing waste and the use of raw materials and this will also be beneficial to you as you gain a good environmental image. You can look at how much water you use and how you recycle paper and magazines. Carry out a waste audit to identify any potential savings that you have not been aware of before.

Help, Finance and Advisors

Your local authority is responsible for providing you with a range of services that your business may need. They should cover the following and give you advice.

• Collection of business rates
• Business support and economic development
• Planning and building regulations
• Licensing and registration services
• Parking services
• Trading standards safety
• Health and safety services
• Environmental services
• Food safety services

As you will be using a building to operate your salon from you will be required to pay business rates. This is the equivalent to domestic premises paying council tax and the rate is set nationally in England by the Department for Communities and Local Government and it is assessed by the Valuation Office Agency. You can read about how business rates are calculated and how you go about paying them, as well as how to challenge your rate if you do not agree with what you are being charged.

Environmental taxes are in place to try to encourage businesses to use their resources efficiently and if they do so they can benefit from tax breaks, for example, by investing in environmentally friendly equipment. Find information out about how taxes are levied and who they are collected by, and how exemptions and credits are made.