It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to a close and 2017 is just around the corner. You may find yourself thinking the last year has flown by but why not get a head start on 2017 by making health and safety your new year resolution?
Health and Safety Policy
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’ve not already done so you should write a health and safety policy for your business. It should be specific to your company and record what your company’s responsibilities are and how you will to ensure the health and safety of your employees. It should be written so that it’s clear who does what, when and how.
It needn’t be complicated; in fact it’s better if it’s simple and easy to understand. That way employees and anyone in the company will be able to fully understand what to do in the event of a health and safety incident.
To get you started the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have created a template that you can download and complete.
Once your health and safety policy is in place schedule a regular review and update it on a regular basis e.g. one every six to twelve months. Your health and safety policy will only be effective if its followed and reviewed regularly.
As part of your health and safety policy you will need to carry out risk assessments. Risk assessment is the process of identifying, evaluating and putting in place appropriate precautions in the workplace for any risks or hazards within your business. By going through the risk assessment process i.e.
- identifying the hazards/risks in your workplace and who may be harmed and how
- evaluating the hazards/risks and how to deal with them and writing down what you find in terms of risks
- and recording how to deal with them
you will protect your business and employees against potential accidents to the best of your ability and take a proactive rather than reactive stance.
It’s also important to review your risk assessment on a regular basis and update as required.
Making Your Employees Part of the Process
Your staff can and should play a major role in spotting risks, hazards and policy flaws that you may have missed.
The person doing the job is far more likely to be aware of where health and safety is being compromised or simply not in place. If you involve them in the process of putting together your risk assessment you are more likely to ensure all work related and job activity risks are covered and less likely to miss a risk.
When staff are involved in the process and know that you have their best interests at heart they will be far more likely to play an active role in putting forward ideas and in implementing health and safety policy. Therefore, it’s vital to remember your staff and workers when putting health and safety policies in place and to ensure you involve employees in health and safety decisions.
Making A Plan
Moving forward it’s worth ensuring that you:
- make staff aware that you will be implementing a health and safety policy. Take the time to explain and open a dialog with staff.
- put aside time to review your risk assessments and health and safety policy.
- consult staff each time a review is carried out.
- appoint a member of staff to take on the role of health and safety delegate(s) and ensure they have support and appropriate training.
- make sure that health and safety is one of your agenda items to be covered at team and management meetings.
- have appropriate health and safety training in place.
- look to work with a company who specialise in health and safety to ensure that you have all your health and safety bases covered.
Rather than see health and safety as yet another task you need to complete or a hindrance to getting the job done, it should be embraced as a way to ensure the safety of your employees and your company. Health and safety is there to make worker’s lives better by keeping them safe.