How To Write Your Company’s Health And Safety Policy

Did you know that by law (Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 section 2(3)) if you employ five or more people you must have a written health and safety policy? If you have fewer employees it’s still a good idea to have a policy. Your Health and Safety policy should be specific to your organisation and should record your organisational responsibilities and your arrangements to ensure the health and safety of your employees. It should also clearly say who does what, when and how. Having a written health and safety policy which you and your employees can refer to is extremely important. Without a health and safety policy employees can become lax in health and safety, and, as an employer, you may fail to manage the health and safety of your employees.

A Health and Safety policy need not be complicated. In fact it’s better to keep it simple and straight forward so it is easy to understand. There are a number of resources available online to help put your first Health and Safety policy together. The HSE provide an example health and safety policy to give you an idea of what to include when writing your own. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have also created a template that you can download and complete. The template includes a section for your risk assessment so that you can record everything in one document.

What Should the Policy Cover?

Most businesses set out their policy as follows:

A statement of general policy which sets out your commitment to managing health and safety effectively and what you want to achieve. This section should be signed and dated.

A responsibility section where you state who is responsible for what.

A risk assessment section detailing what your risks are and what actions are needed http://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/manage.htm. This section should include information on:

  • Equipment – who is responsible for identifying when maintenance is needed, who draws up maintenance procedures, who to report problems to, who purchases new equipment and Safe handling.
  • Use of substances – who identifies hazardous substances, who is responsible for undertaking COSHH assessments, informing employees and reviewing assessments.

An arrangements section where you detail what you are going to do in practice to achieve the aims set out in your statement of general policy e.g.

  • Health and safety training and job training. Who supervises and trains workers? Who provides induction training or job specific training? Who keeps training records?
  • Who monitors conditions and safe working practices? Who investigates accidents and who carries out risk assessments?
  • Who keeps records? Who is the appointed first aider? Who reports under RIDDOR?

This section should also look at the ways you as a company will look to continually improve Health and Safety in the workplace e.g.

  • Adding new equipment that can reduce the risks, such as protective clothing.
  • Replacing harmful chemicals where possible.

Once your Health and Safety policy is in place it’s important to ensure it’s reviewed and updated on a regular basis e.g. one every six to twelve months). A policy will only be effective if you and your staff follow it and review it regularly.

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