Whether you work in a profession with well-known health hazards or you have to look a little bit harder to identify them, no job is risk free. So if you’re an employer, it’s essential that you have a policy that will protect your employees.
What is a Health and Safety Policy?
A Health and Safety Policy is a written statement usually comprised of a statement section, an organisation section, and an arrangements section. The statement section details how safety will be managed, and demonstrates the business’s commitment to health and safety; the organisation section tells you where responsibilities are allocated and how employees fit into the policy; and the arrangements section details of how specific activities and functions are managed, such as risk assessments, fire safety, etc.
Why Should You Have One?
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act of 1974 places a duty on all employers “to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work” of all their employees.
If you have five or more people in your employ, you must have a written Health and Safety Policy statement. It demonstrates how important you consider your employees’ health and safety.
The Act also requires:
– Safe operation and maintenance of the working environment, plant and systems
– Maintenance of safe access to the workplace
– Safe use handling and storage of dangerous substances
– Adequate training of staff
– Adequate welfare provisions at work
The Act states that you must prepare your own policy and bring it to the attention of your employees. Whether you have a written statement or not, as an employer you have a duty of care to your employees to protect them from harm from work activities.
The regulations cover all aspects of the working environment, including ventilation, lighting, cleanliness, etc.
You can take a look at the legislation on the HSE website here.
How to Develop a Health and Safety Policy
Ideally, you should involve your staff in the writing of the policy. They know the company and how it operates better than external agents. It’s likely that you will need to seek advice and assistance from outside of the company from businesses which will be able to address your specific needs.
Getting employees involved will also improve the likelihood that you’ll get their commitment to the policy, too.
Aims of the Policy
The aims of the policy should be linked to the levels of risk. You should set it out in a way that makes it clear to everyone what is expected of them so they are able to comply with its requirements.
If you have a small organisation it’s likely that a simple statement will work just as well.
For a larger organisation, you may need an overarching policy that covers general issues, as well as more detailed policies relating to individual sites or activities. This means that you can tailor sections of the strategy to your individual managers.
Informing Your Employees
There are a variety of ways to inform your employees of your health and safety policy. If it’s short, or you are a small organisation, then you may want to give a copy to each of your employees. If your company is larger, then have a copy available to everyone online through an intranet or cloud storage system and incorporate it into your staff training.
However you go about it, you must make sure that every single employee knows where they stand.
Reviewing Your Policy
Your policy needs to be as effective as possible at all times, so regular monitoring and reviewing need to be carried out. From spot checks and safety inspections to audits and accident investigations, this is a vital part of your health and safety policy.
So whether you’re the CEO of a small organisation or the Health and Safety Officer of a large one, make sure that your policy looks after your employees.