Common health and safety policy mistakes

By Chris Wagstaff
11 Aug 2023

In the UK if you have five or more employees, you are required to have a health and safety policy in place. This is as per the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Having a robust health and safety policy in place is one of the best ways your employees can manage workplace risks.

In turn, your employees can start to feel more comfortable and productive at work as they will begin to see that you are committed to ensuring their safety.

Even with the best intentions, mistakes can still appear in health and safety policies. Here at Croner, we’ve collected some of the main mistakes our expert advisors see.

If you need immediate advice, get in touch with one of our health and safety consultants here: 0800 141 3908.

the health and safety policy sets out your general procedures for reducing safety mistakes in the workplace.

Outline how Health & Safety is organised

As an employer, you should use your health and safety policy to outline what your business's structure is and highlight who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace.

This information will give your employees clarity of who it is they need to report incidents to, should they occur.

You could display this information using an organisational chart. This will help to visualise how health and safety is handled within your business.

You could also go a step further and highlight who:

  • Is responsible for overall health and safety in the business.
  • Is responsible on a day-to-day basis for implementing the health and safety policy.
  • ho in the business plays a key role in the health and safety policy, whether that is for reviewing the policy or for implementing aspects.

Our recommendation is to display all information possible to ensure compliance.

Cover all the hazards and areas

Your health and safety policy should outline how you are managing risks throughout your business. When you are outlining what measures you have put in place to protect your employees, this should identify where the weaknesses are within your business.

All health and safety, from risk assessments to your H&S policy, should be under constant review, so any identified weaknesses can be  developed and improved to reduce the risk of hazards.

Include a statement of intent

With every policy you make, you should include a statement of intent. This will outline your business's approach to managing risks and hazards in your workplace.

Normally this is a one-page statement that is signed by a senior person within the business. If this document doesn’t exist or isn’t signed, then it can show a lack of commitment towards your team's health and safety.

This statement should also include your company's approach to supporting your employee's mental health, how you help with stress management and overall wellbeing.

Lack of evidence to show it's been read by employees

More often than not, when you share a policy or policy change with your workforce, you won’t have any idea as to whether they’ve read the policy. You should ensure that your employees are aware of the contents of the policy and fully understand what it means.

There are a few ways you can ensure your employees read the policy so you can retain proof. Whether you are using a physical or digital document you can have your employees sign to say that they’ve read and understand it. Equally, you can make it part of your employee induction process.

Too long

When you are writing your policy you should ensure that you’ve got the right balance of informative content without making it too long.

If your document is too long, it can put your employees off reading the document. If they do read the long document, they could become overwhelmed with the information.

Make it accessible to all employees

You should ensure that your policy is accessible to all your employees, this includes any home workers you have. As good practice you should produce the document in braille or have an audio version if you distribute digitally.

Failing to accommodate disabled employees has far reaching implications that could result in your being taken to an employment tribunal, so it’s important to get this right.

Include your workers when putting the policy together.

When you start putting your policy together, you should consider including your employees. They will be able to highlight hazardous areas or tasks that you may miss, this will help you ensure that you’ve covered everything.

You should also consider talking to any businesses that you share your premises with, as you may need to include their activities in your health and safety policy.

Ensure its reviewed properly

Your health and safety policy should be reviewed regularly, at least every year. This will help to ensure that you are up to date, or allow you to adapt your policy when new risks or hazards present themselves.

This policy will be referred to if an incident happens, so you need to ensure that your policy is up to date with all the correct information.

Not written by the correct person

It is common for business owners to write their own health and safety policies, as there isn’t a legal requirement s for the policy to be completed by an external health and safety professional. We would highly recommend using an external specialist to guarantee compliance.They can be done with input internally, these will better reflect the company's values and commitment to cultivating a safer work environment.

Putting together the document may seem like a daunting task, even more so, if you aren’t used to putting a health and safety policy together, you can utilise Croner’s health and safety consultants to help, speak to one of our experts on 0800 141 3908.

Speak to an Expert

Croner has a team of award-winning, HR professionals and consultants who are specialists in their field.

We have been providing assistance to businesses for 80 years. Our advice line is available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Why not speak to a Croner expert on 0800 141 3908.


About the Author

Chris is the Director of Health and Safety at Croner. Chris is also CMIOSH accredited, an IOSH Mentor and HSE People Champion and has over 20 years working in Health & Safety.

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