What is a Health & Safety Policy? Blog post

What is a Health & Safety Policy?

A health & safety policy sets out your general approach and commitment together with the arrangements you have put in place for managing health & safety in your business. It is a unique document that says who does what, when and how.

Do I need a health and safety policy?

A documented health and safety policy is a legal requirement if you employ five or more people. If you employ less than 5 it is still helpful, and good practice to have one.

Myth buster: I have less than five employees, am I exempt?

In short, no. You still need to risk assess your work, it is a legal requirement, however, you are not legally required to record it, but it would be best practice to do so.

Who creates the policy in the workplace?

A health & safety policy should be completed by a competent person, this will usually be the person responsible for health and safety in site. This could be as simple as the company owner.

How do I develop a health & safety policy?

Your health & safety policy should have three parts, as explained below:

1 - Statement of intent.

In your statement you should list your company's aims for health and safety. You should use simple language. You, as the owner or most senior person in the company, should sign and date the statement. You should also set a review date. You must also display your statement of intent where all employees can read it, for example on the staff notice board.

2 - Responsibilities for health & safety.

This section of the policy lists the names, positions and roles of the people within your company who have specific responsibility for health and safety.

3 - Arrangements for health & safety.

The arrangements section gives details of the specific systems and procedures you have in place. This part of your policy should describe in detail how you you control the risks associated with your business activities. You must tailor this to your specific business. For example, there is no point in describing your safety rules for dealing with chemicals if you don't use chemicals.

How often should a policy be reviewed?

It’s down to the competent person to decide when a policy is reviewed depending on how large and complex the business is. The suggested standard is for an annual review, however, if your organisation undergoes frequent changes, reviewing the policy more regularly is recommended.

The law.

The legal requirement to write a policy is in included in the Health and Safety at Work (etc) Act and the Management of Health and Safety Work Regulations.

A hand stacking the building blocks of health and safety

How can I implement a health and safety policy?

In a small business, you might choose to talk to your workers directly about your health & safety policy. Your employees are often the best people to understand risks in the workplace and speaking to them directly will also allow employees to raise concerns and influence decisions. Larger business may consult through a health and safety representative.

Where can I find a health & safety policy template and a worked example?

The health & safety policies, and related documents, available from easyhealthandsafety are a good place to start your journey and will give you the information needed to gain a deeper understanding of safety.

Every business is different.

Not every business will face the same health & safety challenges, so not every health & safety policy will be the same. Your health & safety policy should address the issues present in your business. It should be relevant and proportionate to the business size, risk and complexity.

Check out our Health & Safety Policies here.

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