11 Aug 2021
No matter the industry, size, or nature of your organisation, health & safety plays a vital role.
That’s why it’s important to have a clear and comprehensive policy in place, for the protection of your employees—and your business.
As an employer, you have a duty of care for your staff. Failing to keep them safe could result in heavy fines or prison sentences.
In this article, we’ll break down the importance of a health & safety policy, what to include in yours, and give advice on how to structure the document.
What is a health & safety policy?
This document sets out your organisation’s approach to health & safety, detailing arrangements you’ve put in place to manage your employees.
It should outline your commitment to the right procedures, as well as saying who in your business does what, when and how.
Remember, your health & safety policy is for your employees, just as much as it’s for you and your business.
If your policies and procedures are ineffective you should immediately review and adjust them accordingly.
Why do you need a health & safety policy?
Mainly, to ensure you comply with safety legislation set out by the HSE, with the intention of keeping you and your employees safe.
Your policy should outline:
- The risks present in your workplace.
- How you manage hazardous substances, equipment, or machinery.
- The actions you’ve taken to minimise the highlighted risks.
- Who’s responsible for ensuring you take appropriate action to manage risks.
- Reporting lines and management structure.
- Who’s responsible for recording and monitoring incidents?
- What are your monitoring systems?
- What to do in the case of an emergency.
All health & safety policies and procedures will be slightly different depending on the industry you operate in and the risks your workers face.
However, your approach to health & safety should always be the same and should fall in line with the HSE guidelines.
Who must create a workplace health & safety policy?
Your company health & safety policy should be written by the business’ health & safety competent person.
As an employer, the responsibility falls on you to keep your employees safe. You may ensure the person writing it is the most competent person. They must have knowledge, skills and experience of health & safety.
In either case, you should be part of the drafting process and should be involved each time the document is reviewed.
How often should health & safety policies be reviewed?
Your staff health & safety policy should be reviewed at least once a year. You can choose to do it more often if you wish.
You should also review your policy if there is a significant change in the workplace or if you move locations. This will highlight any issues that went unseen before, and reinforce your commitment to health & safety in your company.
RIDDOR & your health & safety policy
Your written health & safety policy should always be used in conjunction with your RIDDOR requirements.
The RIDDOR legislation requires you to report all deaths and major injuries when:
- The accident causes a specific injury.
- The accident was work-related.
- The injury is of a reportable nature.
Following any one of these incidents, you should conduct a full review of your health & safety policy to see if there are any changes you can make to ensure the incident doesn’t occur again.
Publish a health & safety policy statement
A statement is essentially an expression of your organisation’s commitment to managing health & safety effectively.
Ideally, it should state that the wellbeing of your employees is equally important to the other commitments your company has made.
You can include this as part of your wider health & safety policy, or as a separate document entirely.
The policy must have three elements. The statement is the first of the three, responsibilities second, and arrangements third.
Health & safety policy summary
All businesses face risks, no matter their size, industry or location. To keep things simple, it often helps to identify all policies and procedures relating to health & safety and ask this question:
“Is this covered in my health & safety policy?”
If the answer is “no”, make sure you include the missing section.
Your policy is the master document, the first place you should go when there is an issue, and therefore should touch upon all risks staff face and all obligations you have.
Having a written health & safety policy is a legal requirement for all businesses with five or more employees. It’s still recommended for anyone with fewer employees to prepare one to evidence their health & safety plan.
Download our free health & safety policy template
Croner can help you draft a policy unique to your business, alongside a complete inspection of your workplace, to ensure we cover everything that needs covering in your documentation.
Download our free health health & safety policy template, and create your own policy to keep your staff safe.
We also have a health & safety policy statement example to download for free, right here.
Need our assistance? Speak to a Croner expert today and we’ll arrange a visit to your premises for a full on-site inspection, with advice on the day, and a full, written report with action points to follow. Call us today on 0800 470 2807.
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