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Putting a health and safety policy in place

  • Blog
  • 02 March 2017

Having a health and safety policy in place is a legal requirement in business. If you employ five or more people, including part time staff, you should have your policy in writing.

But what does putting a health and policy together actually involve? This blog explains what you should include and why to put one in place. 

Putting a health and safety policy in place

What should a health and safety policy do?

The aim of putting together a health and safety policy is to inform people in your business how you intend to deal with key health and safety issues in your workplace. It should also show your commitment to health and safety and identify who is responsible what area.

With this in mind, a good health and safety policy is set out in three sections:

  • Policy statement
  • Responsibilities
  • Arrangements

Policy statement

This is your statement of general policy on health and safety at work, which is sometimes called your general statement of intent. It should set out your commitment to health and safety in your company and what you aim to achieve to ensure the health and safety of anyone affected by your work. This includes employees through to visiting clients and contractors.

It should set out how you plan to manage health and safety across different areas of your business and your key safety aims and goals. For instance, this could include having representatives for certain areas and carrying out relevant training.

A good statement will also state how you will tell people about your policy, such as uploading a copy to your staff intranet or giving copies to employees. As the manager of your business, you should also sign it.

Responsibilities section

This should set out who is responsible for the specific areas of health and safety in your company, identifying their different roles and responsibilities. Depending on the size of your business, this could be one individual or several people who have agreed to cover specific areas.

Examples could include a person responsible for health and safety in the warehouse or a representative for first aid or fire emergencies. Other responsibilities could include someone who conducts risk assessments or checks the equipment you use.

The policy statement should also point out that everyone in your company has a responsibility for their own safety and that of their colleagues, under health and safety legislation.  

Arrangements section

This final part of your policy, which is usually the largest section, should state the details of what you will do to achieve the aims set out in your statement. It should identify “arrangements” you have put in place to manage different areas of health and safety in your company. This includes those areas that affect your staff and people outside your company, such as clients and contractors.  

Arrangements can vary depending on the type of work you do. For instance, arrangements concerning the safety of your electrical equipment should state what you have done to manage the risks associated with that equipment, such as conducting regular checks and fitting signage.

Other examples of arrangements could include first-aid procedures, drugs and alcohol policies, and driving company vehicles.

Other things to consider when putting a policy in place

If a HSE (health and safety executive) inspector ever needs to look at your policy, it’s important to make sure it includes everything it should. So when putting your policy together, make sure:

  • It isn’t complicated and is simple to understand
  • It includes accurate details of what you will actually do. For instance, if you plan to carry out inspections every three months, don’t say monthly inspections
  • Everyone listed in the policy knows and understands their responsibilities
  • Your staff have access to a copy of the policy to read. It’s also important to give a copy to all your new starters, and make sure those key people outside your business are aware of it
  • You review the policy at least once a year, or when something changes in your business which could affect your staff
  • You sign and date the policy every 12 months

How we can help with health and safety policies

A good health and safety policy helps ensure the welfare of people in and outside your business. To help our members put good policies in place for their companies, we offer access to:

  • Health and safety policy templates and guidance, written by experts in the field
  • Round-the-clock advice from industry experts on our Legal Advice Helpline
  • Necessary health and safety regulations

To find out more about how we can help you put a policy in place for your business, or to learn about our other health and safety services, please speak to the team or visit our FSB Health and Safety Advice page.

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