A Health and Safety Policy outlines an organisation's commitment to ensuring a safe and healthy work environment for its employees. The policy should be comprehensive and clearly state the organisation's goals for health and safety at work.
By safeguarding your employees, you minimise absence and improve the efficiency and productivity of your workplace. Research demonstrates that employees are more productive in environments that prioritise health, safety, and wellbeing.
We look at why you need a Health and Safety Policy, what to include, and how to make sure you stay compliant.
What is the Health and Safety at Work Act?
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (the HSW Act), applies to all work activities and premises and everyone at work has responsibilities under it, including the self-employed. The Health and Safety Executive states
“you must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of yourself and others who may be affected by what you do or do not do. “
Businesses with 5 or more employees are required by the HSW Act to have a written health and safety policy. Even if a business has fewer than 5 employees, a written policy is not mandatory, but a health and safety policy must still be in place.
The policy should be communicated to all employees, and everyone should be aware of their individual responsibilities.
What should a Health and Safety Policy include?
A well written Health and safety policy covers three main areas:
Part 1: Statement of intent
The Statement of Intent serves as an introduction to your Health and Safety Policy. It provides a concise overview of the policy's purpose and scope, including your organisation's commitment to health and safety and the goals you aim to achieve.
The Statement should be realistic and practical, avoiding overly verbose language and vague statements. The objectives outlined should be specific and measurable. This section does not require extensive detail, and bullet points can be used to effectively highlight important information.
It is crucial to specify how you will communicate the Health and Safety Policy to employees. The responsibility for this lies with the most senior person in the organisation, or someone designated by that person.
The policy should be reviewed, at a minimum, annually and this should be set out in the statement of intent, along with a note of the date of the last revision
Part 2: Responsibilities for health and safety
In this section, you identify the key individuals or departments responsible for implementing and maintaining the policy.
The format used to present this information will depend on the size of your organisation. Smaller companies may find a simple list the most straightforward method. For larger companies, an organisational chart can effectively display the hierarchical structure of health and safety responsibilities and clearly name individuals and their roles.
Regardless of the format chosen, keep this section straightforward and avoid excessive detail. A full job description is not necessary; just define each person's health and safety duties.
Employees should have a clear understanding of their responsibilities regarding health and safety, including the requirement to exercise reasonable care for their own and others' health and safety at work. "Reasonable care" should be defined in the policy.
Part 3: Arrangements for health and safety
The Arrangements for Health and Safety section outlines the specific actions to be taken to achieve the objectives set out in the Health and Safety Policy.
It is crucial to maintain clarity and readability in this section. Use clear headings for each arrangement and then detail the relevant procedures in place to manage key risks, including the individuals responsible for implementing the arrangement. For instance:
“the designated First Aiders are responsible for providing first aid to those who have been injured.”
Other items to include in this section could be:
Emergency procedures: A description of the procedures to be followed in case of an emergency, including fire drills and evacuation plans.
Reporting accidents and incidents: Details on how employees can report accidents and incidents, including the procedures for investigation and record-keeping.
Hazard identification and control: Risk assessments and procedures for identifying and controlling hazards, including the use of personal protective equipment and safe work practices.
Training: Information on the training provided to employees on health and safety, including the frequency and methods of training.
Health and wellness: Information on the organisation's commitment to promoting employee health and wellness, including healthy work habits and stress management.
Communication: Details on how the organisation will communicate health and safety information to employees, including regular safety meetings and newsletters.
In conclusion, a comprehensive Health and Safety Policy should be a key part of any organisation's commitment to protecting the health and well-being of its employees.
The policy should be easily accessible to all employees and reviewed regularly to ensure it remains up-to-date and effective.
Supportive Solutions approach
Supportive Solutions provides IOSH accredited courses:
Our health and safety courses are designed to cover all levels of personnel from those who require an understanding of occupational Health and Safety, to Managers helping them understand their responsibilities and accountabilities, through to enabling Senior Leaders to benchmark their Health and Safety performance against other companies.
Contact us to see how we can help make sure your employees are kept safe with an effective workplace health and safety policy