Health and Safety Policy
Why and how should I compile a safety policy for my organisation?
The Health and Safety at Work Act requires all employers of five or more employees to prepare a written health and safety policy statement and bring it to the attention of employees.
‘…..it shall be the duty of every employer to prepare and, as often as may be appropriate, revise a written statement of his general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of his employees and the organisation and arrangements for the time being in force for carrying out that policy, and to bring the statement and any revision of it to the notice of all his employees.’
This general duty is reinforced by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations which requires that every employer makes such arrangements as are appropriate for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the necessary preventative and protective measures. These should be specific to the nature of the work activities undertaken and the size of the undertaking.
The document should specify how an organisation fulfils its legal obligations and this will depend largely on its individual circumstances. It provides a framework of responsibilities and arrangements for staff safety and is likely to act as a ‘Signpost’ indicating more detailed duties, procedures and arrangements for planning, co-ordinating and controlling all aspects of health and safety in the workplace. It should be dated and signed by the Chief Executive or Managing Director.
Essentially, the policy document is divided into three parts:
GENERAL STATEMENT OF INTENT
This is a summary of the general ethos and commitment relating to health and safety management and identifies in general terms the responsibilities and expectations relating to management and staff.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
This section deals with operational duties and line management structure relating to health and safety management.
ARRANGEMENTS, SYSTEMS AND PROCEDURES
This deals with the practical aspects of the policy and the means by which is implemented. It will for example deal with:
• Safe systems of work • Environmental controls • Emergency procedures • Fire safety • Accident investigation and reporting • Safety training • Control of noise • Control of dust & hazardous substances • Medical welfare & facilities • Arrangements for & monitoring of workplace safety • Arrangements for plant / equipment safety and guarding • Housekeeping • Management of records • Communication, safety committees & safety representatives
It is important that the Safety Policy is brought to the attention of all employees, in order that they can support and comply with it. It is common practice for a summarised document to be placed on display, ideally on the Health & Safety notice board (if one exists). A copy should also be given to new employees as part of their induction process.
It is of vital importance that the text of the document is transferred into action. There is no point in compiling a form of text that is ignored by everyone from board level to the shop floor. It should be a living document that is periodically revised and kept current. All staff should feel a part of it and encouraged to play their part in its application.