Yes, it is a legal requirement. Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, every employer must prepare, maintain and revise a written statement showing the policy on safety of the organisation and what arrangements are in place to ensure the general policy is implemented. It is also the responsibility of the employer to make sure all employees are aware of the policy.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, goes a little further in stating that where the employer employs five or more employees, they shall record the arrangements.
Every business must have a policy for managing health and safety. If you employ less than five people, as the employer, you still need a health and safety policy, but this can be verbally communicated to employees, or others who may be affected by your business activities.
I employ Less Than 5 People – Are There Any Commercial Benefits Of Having A Written Health and Safety Policy?
Yes of course, for example, if you are a contractor working within the construction industry, there will be instances where, to get that contract you have tendered for, to get onto that approved suppliers list, or when applying to one of the health and safety accreditation schemes (such as CHAS, Constructionline, SafeContractor etc.), you will most definitely need to provide health and safety documented records, including a written Health and Safety Policy.
In these instances, if you wish to be considered, you would have little choice but to provide a written Health and Safety Policy, but the benefits of having a policy far outweigh not having one at all.
In any case, it is always a good thing to write down your Health and Safety Policy, it doesn’t need to be burdensome. A good policy can be beneficial and lead to improved standards of health and safety, with employees being encouraged to co-operate and take responsibility. It can also be useful if your policy is ready to hand, when business opportunities arise that require a copy; this will give a proactive indication to potential Clients regarding your commitment to health and safety.
Of course, just because you have no written policy, doesn’t necessarily mean you have no health and safety commitment, but if you want those contracts, if you want to get onto those approved suppliers lists, or be accredited to a Health and Safety Scheme, then you will have to show commitment to health and safety.
What Should Be Included Within My Health and Safety Policy?
There are three main areas to the policy document, these are:
(i) Health & Safety Policy Statement of Intent – this is your aims and objectives, your general policy on health and safety, and your commitment to prevent accidents, provide PPE, consult and train employees etc. The statement should be signed and dated by the most senior person within the business, such as the Managing Director.
(ii) Organisation of Health and Safety (Who is responsible for what?) – This should start with the most senior position within the business; that is the person who has overall responsibility. Also, include who has the general day-to-day responsibility for ensuring the policy is implemented? List others who have responsibility in specific area’s e.g., Fire Safety Management, Risk Assessments, Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), then cascading to all staff who have general H&S responsibilities, co-operation, taking care of their own health and safety and that of others, reporting any health and safety concerns to line managers etc.
The policy document should not forget temporary workers, contractors or sub-contractors as they all have health and safety responsibilities; all persons employed or contracted by the business need to know what their health and safety responsibilities are.
(iii) Arrangements for health and safety (How are risks managed?) – Details should be provided on the organisations arrangements for achieving your aims. This should include but are not limited to how risk assessments are carried out, training for employees, consulting with employees, provision of Personal Protective Equipment, (PPE), fire and emergency arrangements, first aid arrangements, reporting of injuries, disease and dangerous occurrences, arrangements for manual handling, working at heights etc.
How Often Should I Review My Health and Safety Policy?
You should review and update your Health and Safety Policy: –
i) To reflect changes in legislation relevant to your business activities
ii) Due to operational or organisational changes within your business
iii) In light of experience
iv) At regular defined intervals (typically annually)
Advice, Help or Assistance
Should you require any further advice, help, or assistance regarding your Health and Safety Policy, then please contact one of our helpful Consultants on 01332 668877 or email [email protected].