How to Create a Health and Safety Policy
Creating a health and safety policy is very important as it protects the business and its employees. However, it does not need to be over-complicated. Businesses have a duty to ensure the health and safety of anyone who could be affected by the work that they do. Employers who fail in their general duty of care, or fail to carry out other legal obligations, face the possibility of fines and possible imprisonment.
However, there are a number of business benefits to be gained from effective health and safety management. Rather than simply dwelling on the penalties of health and safety breaches, you should look to the more positive aspects of managing a risk. Effective health and safety management not only helps reduce the suffering caused by accidents and ill health, it also lessens the likelihood of any enforcement action.
These can include:
- Reduced costs
- Controlled risks
- Lower employee absence and turnover rates
- Fewer workplace accidents
- Improved reputation among suppliers and clients
- Increased productivity (due to a more motivated workforce)
The policy should set directions and some basic objectives; it should include:
- a statement of intent;
- a description of the organisation in place for implementing the policy and;
- the arrangements for implementing actions.
You must ensure that:
- The scope of the policy extends to the full range of your work activities.
- It is endorsed by the most senior person in the business and the policy statement bears their signature.
- You write it down.
- It is kept up-to-date by carrying out regular reviews and amending the content when things change.
- It is brought to the attention of anyone who would need to know about it, such as employees, contractors, prospective clients, suppliers…etc.
- You display an up-to-date copy of the policy statement.
- It commits to meet legal requirements.
- Employees or their representatives are involved in drawing up the policy.
- Where responsibilities are allocated to people, you ensure that they are clear about what they are expected to do.
- Where competent persons are not available, you consider providing training or buying in expertise from outside.
Finally, always remember the key steps regarding your business’ health and safety policy:
Step 1: Create and update
Step 2: Display and communicate
Step 3: Review
This article is written by Paul Sumner, DMCC Senior HSE Manager. Email: