A Health and Safety Policy is a written statement outlining an employer's legal duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 ("the Act"). It sets out how health and safety issues are managed within an organisation and is a commitment to planning and managing health and safety at work. It is the key to achieving an acceptable working environment and preventing accidents and instances of work-related ill health.
This Health and Safety Policy template provides a framework for recording how health and safety issues are managed within an organisation.
Implementing a company health and safety policy in your business doesn't have to be expensive, time consuming or complicated. Safer and more efficient working practices can often save money but, more importantly, they can help save lives.
All employers have a duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees and must assess risks at work.
If you employ five or more people, then by law you must have a written Health and Safety Policy statement and you must record the significant findings of your risk assessment, which is an essential part of developing a policy. The Act says that you must prepare your own health and safety policy statement and bring it to the attention of all employees. The policy should cover all aspects of the organisation and be relevant to all employees. The policy should clearly set out how you manage health and safety in your workplace by defining who does what and when and how they do it.
In addition, all employers and owners of non-domestic premises legally have to appoint someone who will be responsible for fire safety. The onus will be on that person to assess fire risks, take practical measures to identify, reduce and remove them and to record the fire risk assessment undertaken. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, as amended, premises are subject to inspection by appointed enforcers to check compliance with the law.
What are the duties of employers to their employees?
Employers' duties extend to, in particular:
- the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;
- arrangements for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances;
- the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of employees;
- so far as is reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under the employer’s control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and the provision and maintenance of means of access to and egress from it that are safe and without such risks;
- the provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.
Overall responsibility for health and safety rests with the employer but many day-to-day tasks may be delegated. The policy shows how these tasks are allocated and states exactly who is responsible for different things such as first aid, health and safety and fire risk assessments and accident investigation procedures.
Managing health and safety is little different from managing any other aspect of your business. You need to do a risk assessment to find out about the risks in your workplace, put sensible measures in place to control them, and make sure they stay controlled.
Risk assessment helps you protect your workers and your business, as well as comply with the law. It helps you focus on the risks that really matter - the ones with the potential to cause real harm.
A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what in your work could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm. The law does not expect you to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people 'so far as is reasonably practicable'. Risk assessment should be a practical exercise, aimed at getting the right controls in place.
You must assess risks to the health and safety of anyone who may be affected by your work activities. Some key areas of risk include asbestos, chemicals, confined spaces, display screen equipment (VDUs), electricity, excavation, falling objects/collapsing structures, machinery, manual handling, noise, pressure systems, radiation, slips, trips and falls, stress, substances hazardous to health (such as dust or fumes), temperatures, transport, vibration, violence to staff, work equipment, work-related upper limb disorders, working alone, working at heights, working environment etc. These are just examples of key areas. Look around your workplace to identify other risk areas.
Consult your employees
Your employees are often the best people to understand risks in the workplace and involving them in making decisions shows them that you take their health and safety seriously. You have to consult all your employees on health and safety. This does not need to be complicated. You can do this by listening and talking to them about:
- health and safety and the work they do;
- how risks are controlled;
- the best ways of providing information and training.
You need to record the significant findings of your risk assessments in a separate document entitled "Health and Safety Risk Assessments Findings". The Health and Safety Policy only records the arrangements for ensuring the assessments are done and are kept up to date. Once you have done your risk assessments, you must take the necessary action to remove or reduce the risk as far as is reasonably practicable.
Health and safety law poster
You must also display the health and safety law poster, or provide each worker with a copy of the equivalent pocket card. You must display the poster where your workers can easily read it.
The poster outlines British health and safety laws and includes a straightforward list that tells workers what they and their employers need to do.
This employment policy documents is suitable for use in England, Scotland and Wales and includes clauses covering:
- policy statement
- employer's responsibilities
- employee's responsibilities
- risk assessments
- safe plant and equipment
- hazardous substances
- accidents and first aid
- emergency procedures