Health and Safety Policy For Your Organisation
What is a health and safety policy?
A health and safety policy is a statement which sets out the details as to how your organisation will manage health and safety, as well as the arrangements that are in place in order to put your health and safety policy into practice, to ensure that what you have set out is actually happening in practice. It is a document which says who needs to do what and when in terms of the management of health and safety, as well as briefly detailing why they are doing it.
Who needs to have a health and safety policy?
All organisations need a health and safety policy in order to manage risks effectively, but any organisation which has more than five employees will need to have a written health and safety policy, which is accessible for all staff to read at any time. It will set out who in your organisation is doing which tasks, such as fire sweeping after an evacuation.
New employees to the business should be given a copy and made to read the firm's health and safety policy. Usually, a written health and safety policy is displayed on a wall somewhere, as well as being on the company's computer server which can be accessed by employees.
The importance of a good health and safety policy
Along with effective health and safety training, having a health and safety policy in place should help to reduce accidents in the workplace, which will not only reduce staff absenteeism, but will also lead to a less likely chance of potential costly litigation. The construction of a health and safety policy should be done in conjunction with a comprehensive risk assessment (or multiple risk assessments for each department if your organisation is particularly large), and forms part of your overall risk management process.
How complicated does a health and safety policy have do be, and what does it contain?
This will obviously depend on the size and complexity of your organisation and its operations, as well as the specific risks and workplace hazards employees will face. It does not need to be overly-complicated. In fact, the simpler it is the easier (and more likely!) it is to be read. A typical health and safety policy is likely to cover issues such as:
- Who is responsible for what with regard to health and safety within the organisation
- A brief description of relevant health and safety legislation, and how the company complies with it
- Emergency procedures such as evacuation routes, fire doors, assembly points etc.
- Hazardous substances and chemicals (COSHH) that may be encountered by workers and other visitors (as well as customers), including performing a COSHH risk assessment
- Accident investigation, accident reporting, first aid, RIDDOR
- Monitoring of health and safety in the workplace
- How, when and who reviews the health and safety policy. Ideally, the policy will be reviewed regularly, at least once a year, and any changes communicated to staff so that they are made aware of the revised health and safety policy.