Creating a good health and safety policy for your small business is important but, as health and safety is an ongoing concern in business, it should be reviewed at least once a year.
Why should I review my health and safety policy?
By law, you’re required to have a health and safety policy, and it should be in writing if your business employs five or more people. You have a legal obligation to ensure your policy is up to date, appropriate for your business sector, and meets all legal regulations to help keep your staff safe and to help prevent accidents from happening. If your policy is seen to be out of date, it won’t comply with legal requirements.
Over time, your business, and the world around it, will change. Your company will most likely grow, new hazards in your workplace might develop, and changes might be made to the health and safety laws that your company must follow. You should therefore make sure your health and safety policy changes too when required.
When to conduct a health and safety policy review
You should carry out a policy review each year to make sure it’s effective and complies with current business laws. You should also conduct a review if:
You make changes to your business
This could include:
- Altering your work procedures, such as processes staff must follow to carry out certain tasks
- Creating a new position, team or department or starting a new service
- Redesigning your office layout, extending part of a building, or revamping your company premises
- Introducing new equipment or machinery for staff to use to do their jobs
An incident happens or you discover current procedures are failing
This could include:
- You or one of your team suffers a major incident or injury in the workplace
- You suspect current procedures are no longer sufficient for your staff to work safely
- You discover procedures across your business sector or industry are found to be failing
What should conducting a policy review involve?
Annually, and whenever a change or discovery is made, you should look at your policy and check that it accurately reflects your business in its current form. You should check that the goals you outline in the policy are still being met – for instance, because of changes you’ve made to your business – and that your priorities in health and safety are still present, accurate and effective.
You should also look at those areas of your business where changes or discoveries have been made, or an incident has taken place, and conduct a risk assessment. This can include:
- Conducting a thorough inspection of that area
- Checking equipment and safety gear
- Speaking to key staff to discuss issues or incidents
- Designating a senior employee to make regular checks, such as on machinery and equipment
- Making sure maintenance procedures are set up, such as for machinery
Record your findings from the risk assessment and amend your policy accordingly. You should have already carried out a risk assessment when first putting your health and safety policy together, but a second assessment should be made to check that all current hazards have been identified.
Updating your health and safety policy
Once you’ve conducted your risk assessment and all relevant information has been collated and recorded, you should update your policy to include your new procedures and the key goals you hope to achieve. For instance, the safety checks you’ll start to ensure equipment is continuously safe for your staff use, or the role you’ve created to carry out regular inspections.
Sign and date the updated policy to show when it was last reviewed. You should then replace your previous policy with the updated version and make it available to your team. This could include displaying a copy in your premises in an area that’s accessible to all employees, adding it to your employee handbook or uploading it to your company intranet for staff to download and read.
Health and safety is an essential part of running a business and your policy should be observed and reviewed regularly to keep you and your staff safe.
FSB members can access specialist health and safety advice from qualified lawyers on our legal helpline, as well as guidance and template documents, including a template health and safety policy from the FSB Legal Hub.
It doesn’t have to be risky business
Whatever your sector, FSB Health and Safety Advice takes the stress out of compliance. With workplace health and safety advice from industry experts, as well as online documentation and on-demand training, you’re in safe hands.