It’s a legal requirement in the UK to have a written health and safety policy detailing your organisation’s approach to the management of health and safety, if you employ five or more people in your business.
Health and safety policies help to ensure that effective safety management procedures exist and allow the business to remain legally compliant.
A successful and effective health and safety policy should be clear, concise and easy to understand for everyone it applies to. It also needs to contain specific details and information as to how the policy will be managed, once created.
In this post, I’ve focused on six key components of a successful health and safety policy – with examples to help you apply the advice to your business.
1. Health and Safety Policy, Statement of intent
A crucial element of the policy, the statement should outline the aims of your company and its commitment to the management of health and safety. A health and safety policy statement will set out how you intend to manage health and safety within your workplace. It demonstrates your businesses attitude towards health and safety and the steps, arrangements and management systems that you have in place to ensue you comply with current health and safety legislation.
As the employer or the most senior person in the company, you should sign the Statement of intent and review it regularly.
2. Clear responsibilities
Your policy will need to include a responsibilities section. This section should include details of those people within the organisation who have specific responsibility for the management of health and safety.
The policy should set out how your business will approach and discharge its duties in relation to the management of occupational health, safety and welfare – ultimately affirming its commitment to preventing accidents, injuries and ill health.
The policy will need to set out who has ultimate responsibility for health and safety, for example a Director within the company. Then identify how any nominated employees have been assigned duties, such as Health and Safety Co-ordinators, or if any specific responsibilities for health and safety matters have been assigned to line managers.
The health and safety policy will need to include an arrangements section. The arrangements section of your health and safety policy should clearly outline the way in which you will meet the commitments that you have made in your statement of intent. The arrangements section should include information on what you are going to do to remove or reduce any risks or hazards in your workplace
These sections can include detailed information regarding safety training, safety monitoring, accident reporting/investigation, fire safety, safe systems of work etc.
Risk Assessments – this policy section will set out who will be responsible for carrying out, documenting, monitoring and reviewing your risk assessments, and creating action plans to address any issues raised.
4. Who does the policy apply to?
Although a health and safety policy is primarily concerned with the health and safety of its employees', it is good practice to include considerations for the safety of other persons e.g. sub-contractors, members of the public, visitors or anyone else who may be affected by any work activities carried out by your business.
In each policy section you should identify who is affected by the subject matter and explain how this will be addressed.
If your company uses sub-contractors on a regular basis, your policy should have a dedicated section that clearly details the way in which those sub-contractors will be managed and the safety procedures they will be expected to follow.
5. Access to Competent Advice
As an employer you must appoint someone who is competent to assist you to meet your health and safety responsibilities. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge, qualifications, and experience to manage health and safety.
Who can be a competent person, you could appoint (one or a combination of):
- One or more of your employees
- Someone from outside of your business.
If you’re not confident about your ability to manage health and safety in-house, you will need to seek the help and advice from an external source, for example a qualified health and safety consultant.
Effective communication is essential for successful health and safety management. The policy must be brought to the attention of your employees and be revised whenever appropriate.
Any information your planning to communicate, regarding health and safety should consider:
- Has sufficient time been made available?
- Think about what needs to be communicated and to whom
- When and how will the training be delivered etc.?
A company with multiple sites will need to ensure that all employees are fully aware of the policy and any updates. This could be communicated through a team meeting at each site or delivered via line managers.
For a smaller company with only one site, this could be delivered directly through established lines of internal communication, e.g. team meeting, safety briefings etc.
Don’t forget to share all health and safety related information with any new employees, who join the business.
Need more help?
Our team of advisors at Alcumus can help put your health and safety policy together, or provide general advice on health and safety related issues.
Call 01484 439930 or email [email protected] for further information.