What is a Safety Policy and Why do you need one?
Your Health and Safety Policy should tell all your staff and other stakeholders:
- What your commitments and objectives are for Health and Safety Management,
- Who is responsible within your organisation for managing or implementing specific functions to meet these objectives, and
- How you intend to do this in practice, i.e. your procedures.
Under s.2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 any employer who has five or more employees must produce a written safety policy. The policy must be signed by the senior executive and dated. As it is intended as a living document, it must be reviewed on a regular basis, and revised to account for any changes in the law or in working procedures.
Even where a policy statement in not required by law, smaller organisations are increasingly being required by clients or prospective clients to produce a statement of intent for health and safety, as evidence that they understand their responsibilities and obligations to run their practices safely.
Buying an off-the-shelf policy to meet a compliance requirement does not ensure legal compliance on its own, unless it is implemented. Therefore it is essential that your policy reflects how you work, ie the processes and systems that you have in place in practice.
What Should a Health & Safety Policy Contain?
The policy should initially have a statement of commitment, which is dated and made known to all your employees and should ideally be signed by the senior person to show buy-in and leadership.
It should then contain the responsibilities of the key role-holders in your organisation for ensuring these commitments are met, eg for ensuring staff are trained and work equipment is kept in safe working condition.
This should then be supported by the arrangements (ie procedures and systems) you have in place to ensure the every-day processes to meet the overarching objectives are met. Examples of these may include:
- Accident reporting process and accident investigation
- Communication and consultation with your staff
- Housekeeping and cleaning arrangements
- Risk Assessment processes, including specialist assessment needs such as COVID-19 risk assessment
- Occupational stress
- Fire safety including fire evacuation and emergency response
- Lone work
- Work at height
This is just a small sample of topics that you may need to include, and each organisation is likely to have a combination of arrangements that affect the whole organisation as well as those which are localised to a specific department (eg Hot Work Permit policy).
How We Can Help You
The theory sounds quite straight-forward but developing a policy that is concise, practical and effective can become much more complex when balancing this with other business priorities and processes. So let us help you – we have over 30 years experience in writing policies and integrating these into your key business functions, and we have covered just about every industry sector over the years.
We can help you identify where you are with your existing policy (if you have one) and then provide some solutions to ensure it is understandable, practical and reflects how you do things and link safety management with your working processes.
Simply click here to talk to an advisor – we promise we wont blind you with science, and won’t sell you something you don’t need.