The development of a positive health and safety culture is driven by a commitment from the company’s senior management. Positive culture requires genuine leadership, effective communication and robust policy in order to establish and implement an effective health and safety management system.
- What is health and safety policy?
- The legal requirements of statements of health and safety policy.
- Health and safety procedures
- Steps to creating a health and safety policy.
- Help and advice for writing policies and procedures.
Read on to learn more about health and safety policy and why it is important. You will also hear about how our expert health and safety consultants can support your organisation in the development of your own bespoke health and safety policy.
What is a health and safety policy?
A health and safety policy sets out your organisations commitment towards occupational health and safety matters and specifies your organisations specific approach and the arrangements in place in order to ensure effective risk management and statutory compliance with the relevant legislation. Put simply, your policy should clearly explain how your business intends to manage health and safety.
This policy is generally made up of three parts:
- Statement of Intent
- Responsibilities for health and safety
- Arrangements for health and safety
Part 1 specifies your organisations commitment to health and safety and will include commitments to prevent workplace injury and ill-health, to continually improve health and safety performance and to comply with all applicable legal requirements.
Part 2 looks at the structure of your organisation and specifies the persons or role holders responsible and accountable for the specific aspects of your policies implementation. In a smaller business this may be a single person but in larger organisations, specific responsibilities are typically delegated and spread across various departments with managers responsible for certain aspects of health and safety implementation and day-to-day operation.
Part 3 of the policy details the organisations arrangements for specific aspects of health and safety management. For examples, this part may contain sections on risk assessment methods, emergency preparedness and the procedures for auditing and the ongoing monitoring of health and safety performance.
Your health and safety policy should be communicated to all persons working under the control of the organisation. Sometimes you will need to share it with other when submitting tenders for work for example.
The legal requirements of statements of health and safety policy
All businesses or organisations employing five or more staff must have a health and safety policy. This is an absolute legal requirement and the failure to produce this policy is a criminal offence. It is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HASWA) which creates this statutory duty:
Except in such cases as may be prescribed, it shall be the duty of every employer to prepare and as often as may be appropriate revise a written statement of his general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of his employees and the organisation and arrangements for the time being in force for carrying out that policy, and to bring the statement and any revision of it to the notice of all of his employees.Section 2(3) of the Health and Safety at Work (etc) Act 1974
Under the Employers’ Health and Safety Policy Statements (Exception) Regulations 1975, only employers with five or more employees need write their statement down, although a written policy is helpful for small organisations too.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 expands upon the requirements of section 2(3) of HASWA 1974 and adds the follow mandatory requirements:
(1) Every employer shall make and give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate, having regard to the nature of his activities and the size of his undertaking, for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures.Regulation 5 – The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
(2) Where the employer employs five or more employees, he shall record the arrangements referred to in paragraph (1).
If your organisation is exempt as it employ’s less that five employees, Centurion Alba still strongly recommends that you create a health and safety policy.
So who must create a workplace health and safety policy?
We now know that every business employing five or more staff must have a health and safety policy, but who is responsible for this? The legal duty to create the health and safety policy is placed upon the employer. In terms of identifying who is the employer, this can often be a little complicated dependant upon the legal structure of the organisations but typically a companies leaders are legally accountable for its conduct . Section 37 of the 1974 Act states that company directors, managers, secretaries and similar officers can be held accountable for the an offence committed by the ‘body corporate’.
The Health and Safety Executive provides a good narrative of this complex matter and they also provide detail of a legal test case which set this precedent, where a company director was held personally liable for the company’s oversight which contributed to the death of an employee. See Armour vs. Skeen.
Steps to creating a health and safety policy
The creation of a health and safety policy should generally not be complex but it’s important to ensure that the process is given some due care and attention. So often we see businesses copy/pasting health and safety polices from others and sadly many ‘consultants’ will provide you with a stock policy as part of their service. Not us!
A health and safety policy should be a bespoke authentic document which properly considers the business in question and address its own unique health and safety challenges and duties.
The policy should address the aims and objectives of the health and safety management system and it should make clear to everyone what is expected of them in order to comply with its requirements.
The policy document need not be long. It’s common for part 1: the statement of intent to be kept to a single A4 page. The rest of the document need only contain sufficient information as is relevant to the organisation. This arrangements section does not need to be so descriptive that it explains step by step processes. It usually more effective to save the detail for health and safety procedures and these can be referenced in the policy. This helps later on when it comes to reviewing the policy.
Although we have said that a policy needs to be unique, it’s perhaps best to start by looking at some examples before going on to decide what is relevant to you.
Health and safety policy template and example
Healthy Working Lives a part of NHS Health Scotland, provides a great example health and safety policy and they have also published a template for creating your own. The Health and Safety Executive have also produced a template and worked example.
The basic documents may be sufficient for some smaller organisations but it’s important to ensure that your policy is appropriate to the size, scale and activities of the organisation. Larger companies or those working in higher risk sectors may need a more robust policy.
Health and safety procedures
When people talk about health and safety procedures they may be talking about a number of different things. Typically they will be referring to documents which describe the workflow or steps associated with a a particular health and safety topic or business activity. Their purpose is to ensure adherence to the organisations health and safety management system, policies and risk assessment outcomes.
Sometimes ‘procedures’ could be referring to the steps associated with a particular task and in industries such as construction they are part of the risk assessment process and jointly described as ‘RAMS’ or Risk and Method Statements.
Examples of health and safety procedures could include:
- Accidents and First Aid
- Emergency procedures
- Risk assessment and the control of workplace hazards
- Personal protective equipment
- Vehicle safety
Just like the policy, procedures should be bespoke to the organisation/activity, and should be routinely monitored and reviewed in order to ensure that they are achieving their desired outcomes.
Help and advice for writing policies and procedures
Centurion Alba can support your team with the development and implementation of a bespoke health and safety policy. We ensure that our clients are involved in every step of the process, in order to ensure that the policy reasonable realistic and proportionate.
Our policy and procedure writing service can be provided as part our our Competent Person Package, but we can also support standalone pieces of work and we’d be more than happy to assign one of our expert consultants to work hand-in-hand with your organisation on set-rate or fixed price, whatever is most appropriate for your needs.
Talk to our friendly team to hear how we can help. We offer a free initial consultation with no obligation to enter into any contract with us.
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Get in touch with us today to discuss your organisations needs. Our expert advisers are on-hand and ready to help.