Having a health and safety policy in place is crucial when running a business. It’s a legal requirement to have your policy in writing if you employ five or more people. You should also make sure your policy contains the right information, in case a health and safety inspector pays you a visit.
So, when it comes to putting together your health and safety policy, what should you include?
Key sections of your policy
First, it’s important to mention that a good health and safety policy is set out in three sections. These are policy statement, responsibilities, and arrangements.
Understanding each section and what it should cover, which is relevant specifically to your business, can help you know what to include when writing your policy.
Policy statementThis is your statement of general policy on health and safety in business. Sometimes called a general statement of intent, the statement, which you should sign and date, should set out your commitment to health and safety in your place of work.
The section should highlight your key aims to keep anyone safe, who is involved in different areas of your business. This includes your employees, visiting clients and contractors. Examples of aims could include appointing some of your staff as health and safety representatives, having the correct safety equipment available when employees use machinery, and making sure all relevant training is given.
The statement should also address how you will tell people about your policy. For instance, by uploading a copy to your staff intranet, or making sure it’s displayed in an accessible area in your office.
This should set out who is responsible for the specific areas of health and safety in your company, identifying their roles and responsibilities. This could be one employee or several members of staff, depending on the size of your business.
You might, for instance, require a person who’s responsible for health and safety in your warehouse. You might also need someone to oversee your first aid procedures, or a representative who conducts checks to ensure your equipment is safe to use.
It’s also important you mention that each person in your business is responsible for their own, and their colleague’s, safety when in your company, and when carrying out any work for you. So you should state that you will encourage your employees to read and follow the rules and regulations you include in your policy.
Arrangements sectionThis final part of your policy is where you should state the details of what you plan to do to achieve those aims listed in your statement.
It should identify the “arrangements” you have put in place to manage health and safety across your company. This includes areas that affect your staff, customers, clients and contractors.
These arrangements can vary, depending on the type of work you do. For instance, it should state what you’ve done to manage the risks associated with the equipment you use. This would include conducting regular checks, carrying out training to use equipment, and fitting signage to remind people to use it where necessary.
It’s important to mention that there are many arrangements, which you should include in your policy. While some might be similar across different businesses, others will differ from company to company. For instance, specific arrangements for driving company vehicles will probably be necessary for a particular delivery firm. A work policy against taking drugs and alcohol, however, should apply to all businesses.
Other things to consider when writing your health and safety policy
It’s important to remember, when putting together health and safety policy, to keep it simple. Try not to overcomplicate details and make sure they are easy to understand and accurate.
You should review and sign the policy at least once a year. Be prepared to also add new details to it when a change is made to your business, such as when new equipment is brought in or changes are made to your office layout.