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Health and safety policy

What is a health and safety policy?

A health and safety policy, to put it simply, is a document that outlines your company’s approach to health and safety. The report should detail the different ways in which you intend to address, minimise and resolve any health and safety issues in the workplace. Though you will find numerous examples of policies online, you are responsible for drafting your own report as the policy must apply directly to the work you carry out. As every business is different, their health and safety policies must vary accordingly.

As an employer, you are both legally and morally obligated to put your employees’ best interest first, and ensure that you create a workplace that is safe to work in – a health and safety policy is a great way to ensure you meet these obligations. Without an appropriate policy, you are putting yourself (and your employees) at risk, and can even face legal or financial repercussions.

Does my business need a health and safety policy?

As mentioned previously, a health and safety policy is a necessary component of a successful, functioning company. Therefore, they are essential for any business operating within the UK – large or small. According to the HSE, you need to put together a written health and safety policy if you have more than five employees. This document should be stored digitally, and you should ensure that employees have access to the text. If you make any changes, you need to inform the employees so that they remain up to speed with the policy and all it entails.

Ideally, this means you should create a health and safety policy statement pdf so that the document can be accessed easily.

When should I use a health and safety policy?

Your health and safety policy should inform the day to day running of your business. For example, the procedures you detail should be commonplace, and not just a formality. This is the only way you can ensure the continuous safety of your employees. However, you can also consult your health and safety policy if an accident occurs at work, as it will provide you with guidance on what to do next.

Studies have shown that companies with well-crafted health and safety policies, who then proceed to implement the changes detailed in the report, perform much better than those without. This means there are fewer accidents or health and safety breaches at work, creating a much safer and more productive work environment for all.

Health, Safety & The Law

In the UK alone, there are numerous laws designed to promote better health and safety in the workplace. Perhaps the most prominent in the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974. This legislation dictates:

“It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees.”

To put it simply, this means that employers must ensure that they:

    Operate the business with health and safety in mind.
    Put a system in place that protects the employees from harm/injury.
    Provide employees with appropriate training and guidance.

What are the consequences for breach of health and safety policy?

If your company fails to follow the legislation, regardless as to whether or not it results in injury or harm, you can face serious legal consequences. This includes:

    An unlimited fine

However, the consequences of poor health and safety management can be much more severe. If you do not implement a health and safety policy, you could cause serious harm to an employee, which could even result in their death. As a consequence, you could be tried under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, 2007.

To ensure the safety of your employees, you must also work in accordance with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, 1999. The legislation requires employers to conduct regular risk assessments, develop appropriate emergency procedures and provide health surveillance.

Health surveillance is a process where you monitor the health or your employees over time, by organising medical checks. This can help ensure that their work is not causing long term damage to their wellbeing.

What is included in a health and safety policy?

Putting together a health and safety policy can be difficult, especially if you have little experience in the field.

Thankfully, at Protecting, we can do most of the hard work for you – helping you to craft the perfect policy for you and your company. However, it would help if you gained a basic understanding of what a policy should include.

The policy itself can be split into three subsections.

    Part One: Statement of Intent
    Part Two: Responsibilities for Health & Safety
    Part Three: Arrangements for Health & Safety

What is the health and safety statement of Intent?

The health and safety statement is relatively straightforward. In this section, you should state your general policy for health and safety in the workplace – and detail how you will try to meet these standards in the everyday running of your business. It should, in short, demonstrate your commitment to your employees and clearly lay out your health and safety aims. For example, one of your aims may be to reduce the number of workplace incidents or to reduce the number of sickness absences.

This statement should be revised frequently, at least once per year. It must also be signed by whoever is in charge, even if they have not written the document themselves.

What responsibilities should be included in a Health & Safety policy?

In this section, you must write down the names of those who are responsible for health and safety in the workplace, and what their role entails. For example, the list will include any staff that are trained in first aid, and your health and safety executive. Ensure the list is up to date and thorough. This section should seek to answer the question:

Who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace?

Responsibility for health and safety in the workplace is hierarchical, though each and every employee will play a role.

    Managing Director

    Health and Safety Manager

    Line Manager

    Individual Employees/Workforce

However, this section should consist of far more than just the employee’s names. You need to outline their responsibilities clearly. For example, the line manager may be responsible for keeping a record of any accidents and injuries that occur. If the injury is serious, they are responsible for passing this information onto the Health and Safety executive.

In the same way that you are responsible for the safety of your employees, the general workforce must also assume some responsibility. For example, they are responsible for following all health and safety related guidance, using equipment safely, and prioritising the safety of those around them.

What is the arrangement for a Health and Safety policy?

This section of the health and safety statement will likely be the longest and most detailed. It should include details of the arrangements and procedures you have put in place to protect your employees. You need to ensure all health and safety concerns are addressed. This includes:

Health Concerns

    Exposure to excessive noise in the workplace.
    Exposure to potentially harmful substances.
    Long and short term effects of manual handling.
    Long and short term effects of sitting at a desk for long periods of time.

Safety Concerns

Any injuries that your employee could receive in the workplace, and how severe the injury may be.
What tools, substances and equipment could be the cause of injury.

The above list is by no means exhaustive but should provide a clear picture of the various risks you need to address in your health and safety policy. However, it is not enough to simply identify the issues themselves. You need to put a plan into place that will either eradicate the problem or minimise the risks associated with the issue.

Therefore, each time you identify a health and safety risk or hazard, you need to include a short summary of how you are going to address this issue moving forward. For example, excessive noise within the workplace and can permanently damage your employee’s hearing. Whilst you can not guarantee a quiet workplace, you can minimise the associated risks by providing them with appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), such as earplugs or headphones. To ensure this is working, you can arrange for employees to have regular hearing checks (surveillance).

This section of your health and safety should include:

    Risk assessments.
    First aid procedures.
    Machinery/Equipment safety procedures/information.
    PPE use.
    Details the training you provide (Safe use of equipment etc).
    Details of workplace monitoring.
    The specific responsibilities of the safety manager in accordance with each health and safety issue.
    Emergency protocols (i.e. guidance on what to do should the unexpected happens).

How do I put together a health and safety statement?

Once you have read and understood the above information, it’s time to put together your policy. Remember, take your time. Once written down, your policy can be used against you in court should a breach occur. Therefore, it is essential that you don’t make any mistakes. At Policy, we can help provide you with a policy template to get you started. We have experience working with companies of all sizes, creating health and safety policy templates for small business UK, as well as larger, more experienced companies.

Create your health and safety documents online today. We offer are clear yet thorough simple to use online software, providing you with the guidance you need to put together a strong statement and protect your employees from harm.