Why should you review your health and safety policy?
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 a health and safety 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
It’s important to 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
- Replace your previous policy with the updated version
- Make everyone in your business aware - this could include displaying a copy in your premises in an area that’s accessible to all employees, like adding it to your employee handbook or uploading it to your company intranet for staff to download and read
Facing a health and safety inspection?
If a Health and Safety Executive inspector arrives on your premises unannounced, remember they have wide powers of inspection and investigation. In order to prepare for this eventuality, it is essential to keep your health and safety paperwork in order so that you can locate this during an investigation. If you receive a written notice of contravention following a site inspection, you should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity because strict time limits for appealing apply.
If you find out that health and safety inspectors are on the way or at your door, you need to move fast to protect your business interests. At the Federation of Small Businesses, our experienced advisers will understand your concerns and recommend the right actions to make sure that you can continue trading during the inspection process. FSB members have access to template health and safety documents on the FSB Legal and Business Hub and to expert health and safety advice on the FSB legal advice line.