Did you know that it is a legal requirement to have a health and safety policy in writing if you have five or more employees? Did you know that if your policy does not contain the right information, a health & safety inspector could shut down your business on the spot? Did we just scare you? Well don’t worry, we’re here to help you put together a policy that includes all the right stuff!
The Main Components
Your policy should be broken down into three main sections; Policy statement, responsibilities and arrangements. Below we will help you understand what each of these cover, take notes and try to focus on how these apply specifically to your business.
Treat this as your mission statement or opening address. This is a statement of intent on your part to commit fully to the health and safety of your work environment. This should be signed & dated as a sort of agreement or pledge that you will hereby adhere to your own policy.
Use this section to cover the key ways that you plan to keep your employees or anyone involved in your business safe. Remember that your policy does not just cover employees, but also extends to clients, contractors, and anyone who works with or for you. This will include things like emergency plans, safety equipment in your workplace, proper training and precautions for the use of machinery or other risky workplace endeavours and so on.
Lastly, the Policy Statement should outline how you plan to implement these safety and health precautions. List how you will introduce them to your staff and train them on these new policies.
This should set which personnel within the company are responsible for which areas of health and safety. Choose who in your staff will take on roles to ensure that every aspect of your new policy is put to use. One employee may be in charge of safety in the office while another may oversee first aid & emergency preparedness.
It’s obvious that all of your staff should be aware of their own obligations to know and adhere to the safety policy of your business, but it doesn’t hurt to write this into the document. You should also include your plan to encourage your employees to both read and follow these rules. This will keep you out of trouble in the event of a disaster.
Arrangements should be your most detailed section. You will include your exact plans of what you aim to achieve and how you will achieve it. The “arrangements” you have made to manage the safety and health of your company as a whole will be given in detail. This is where you will need to spend some time thinking of the particular risks that your staff, customers and contractors are exposed to. These are unique to your business and every scenario should be considered. If your business services pets, you may need to review all of the associated risks of contact with animals. Or if for example your business uses heavy machinery, you will need to outline why and how each machine can be dangerous. Then you will explain how you will minimize those dangers, how you will train your staff to minimize the risks of using said equipment, and how you will both be prepared & handle an instance where things go wrong.
Unfortunately there isn't a one-fits all solution for this, so think very hard about every aspect of your business and how it should be integrated into this policy.
What else should you consider?
I know that we have mentioned the importance of detail here, but we also want to remind you to keep it simple. There is a difference between being detailed and getting obsessive. It can be easy to start writing down everything under the sun that could happen at your workplace, but stick to the main risks and don’t over complicate it. Also don’t finish your policy, stuff it in a drawer somewhere and forget about it. This is something that grows with your business, and as such you should be prepared to update it any time you change something at work. Purchase new equipment? Bring out the policy. Offering some new services? Bring out the policy.
Make this policy an integral part of your business
The most successful businesses treat safety and health with the utmost respect. Weave this policy into the very construct of your business and make sure that it’s a part of the way you and your staff conduct themselves on a daily basis.