The law in the UK says that every business must have a policy for managing health and safety.
A health and safety policy sets out your general approach to health and safety.
It explains how you, as an employer, will manage health and safety in your business. It should clearly say who does what, when and how.
If you have five or more employees, you must write your policy down. If you have fewer than five employees you do not have to write anything down, but it is useful to do so.
You must share your Health and Safety policy, and any changes to it, with your employees.
3 Actions for Your Health and Safety Policy
Your policy should cover 3 areas.
Part 1: Statement of intent
State your general policy on health and safety at work, including your commitment to managing health and safety and your aims. As the employer or most senior person in the company, you should sign it and review it regularly.
Part 2: Responsibilities for health and safety
List the names, positions and roles of the people in your business who have specific responsibility for health and safety.
Part 3: Arrangements for health and safety
Give details of the practical arrangements you have in place, showing how you will achieve your health and safety policy aims. This could include, for example, doing a risk assessment, training employees and using safety signs or equipment.
The legal requirement to write a health and safety policy is included in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations explain the steps you must take to manage health and safety.
Read on for more detailed help on how to write health and safety policy.
Health and Safety Policy Template Bundle
To help you get started, download our health and safety policy bundle, which provides you with editable examples of General Policy, Statement of Intent, Responsibilities & Health and Safety Arrangements. These can be easily adjusted to be specific to your business.
Be sure to check our CMIOSH-led online Risk Assessment training course to help improve risk management across your workforce.
How to Write a Health and Safety Policy
Let’s break down the three elements that the health and safety executive are asking for you to include a Health and safety policy.
Statement of Intent
Number one, is your statement of intent.
In simple terms, this is just stating what your general policy on health and safety at work is. This will include your overall intent and were you want to be in terms of health and safety.
And also, what I would suggest including, is some specific aims and objectives that relate to your company.
You might want to pull out some targets for looking at a near-miss reporting or health and safety concerns, for example.
You may want to target zero accidents, something which many businesses would aim for (rightly or wrongly!). It’s entirely up to you but something that’s specific and achievable is really the goal here and something you can actually use to strive for.
Then base the rest of your arrangements around those goals.
Health and Safety Responsibilities
The second part of the policy expectation is outlining the responsibilities for health and safety and were they specifically lie within your organization.
You can list names but I would suggest it may be better just to leave those out and go for positions or roles within the company.
Take a look at the members of staff who are already helping you to execute health and safety measures and who’s got responsibility for implementing certain activities. That could be anyone, from people on the shop floor to health and safety professionals, project managers.
Even your site directors can be involved in whichever responsibilities that are applicable, depending on how you decide to delegate responsibility.
Just make sure that it’s clearly outlined and gives a good overview of where responsibilities lie.
Health and Safety Arrangements
Part 3 then is to give details on the specific, practical arrangements that you have in place.
What should ‘health and safety arrangements’ this look like?
Normally, it is best to break these arrangements down into logical sub-sections that reflect the operation of your business. Let’s take a look at what the information for health and safety arrangements relating to ‘Risk assessment for sub-contractor’s’ might look like.
Risk Assessment for Sub-Contractor’s (Example)
Subcontractors’ site and premises specific risk assessment /method statement documentation must be supplied prior to their arrival, where appropriate e.g. specialist contractors. [Company Name] are responsible for adequately reviewing this documentation before work commences.
Should managers feel that a subcontractor’s documentation does not fully outline relevant site risks and associated control measures the subcontractor will be required to re-submit this information until its content is deemed to be of a satisfactory standard.
Hopefully that short example gives you an idea of what we are looking for here.
What else do you need to think about? Perhaps you only use a certain type of equipment that affords special protection to your staff who are carrying particular tasks – make sure those arrangements are included.
Or you have some safety systems in the buildings/facilities that you’re using to reduce the level of risk that people are exposed to. It can really be anything that you feel is appropriate and specific to managing health and safety within your business.
As mentioned above, it helps to break this own into sub-categories e.g. risk assessment, training, welfare, plant and equipment etc.
It’s really up to you to decide what is important.
Only include detail where there are significant actions. That is what the risk assessments and method statements for specific tasks are for.
I would suggest just keeping it at a fairly high level (not too much detail!). So that if anyone asks, they can dig further into it whilst getting a good overview of what it is you’re actually doing to proactively manage health and safety in your business. Our Health and Safety Policy Template bundle includes a detailed example of Health and Safety Arrangements.
Health and Safety Policy UK
If you are working in the UK, I would recommend taking a look at the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, which gives more of a breakdown of responsibilities.
They were brought in in the 1990s and give you a criteria of steps that you should take to manage health and safety effectively.
It will help you when it comes to developing your policies that are relevant to your business.
Also keep an eye out on some of the upcoming episodes on Safeti School, where we will be covering more of the UK health and safety regulations.
Safeti School Transcipt - Health and Safety Policy
Welcome to Safeti School. Where we crunch down health safety and environment learning into simple bite-sized snippets that you can use for your business or your career.
Helping you improve your knowledge, boost your performance and maybe even providing some inspiration.
Let’s get started.
You’re very welcome to another episode of Safeti School with myself Richard Collins your host. And today we’re going to take a very quick look at the need and requirement for a health and safety policy for businesses in the UK. Just to put it into some context as to why we would actually be concerned about this in the first place.
Going back to one of our earlier episodes on the Health and Safety at Work Act, which is obviously going back around 50 years at this point.
It does state and it is still in place to say that if you’ve more than five employees, you must have a written health and safety policy statement and that should be specific to your business.
That should set out your general policy for protecting the health and safety of your employees.
Also, a little bit about your arrangements for putting that into practice. So that gives us a bit of a context as to why we should be concerned.
Even if you don’t have five employees, it will be good practice just to write that down.
Recording your Health & Safety Policy
As I’m sure you would agree, a policy that isn’t recorded anywhere isn’t worth a whole lot. It’s very difficult to prove to anyone that it is the case. So just bear that in mind, if you do have a small business.
The health and safety policy as I said there, it should just set out your general approach to Health and Safety.
Fundamentally for smaller businesses, it really acts as a mini-management system outline.
As you would have with big systems like ISO 45001, which is now the the newest version of the the health and safety management standard.
This is a smaller version of it really and what the health and safety executive are wanting you to do is explain how you as an employer will manage H&S in your business and set out clearly who does what when and how they actually do it.
For larger businesses, the health and safety policy doesn’t need to include as much information and as more of a position statement to outline how you approach health and safety.
You can mention, of course, your management system and the different means by which you meet your goals and objectives.
Outlining what those G’s and O’s within your particular business is very useful here. If you are a smaller company, there’s certain things that the Health and Safety Executive (see above) ask you to include in your health and safety policy.
It doesn’t need to be complicated though – just make sure if accurately reflects your business.
Communicating your Health and Safety Policy
Once you do have that done, you must be able to communicate it properly with your employees.
Traditionally a lot of businesses would just post them on the wall in a communal area or perhaps send them out by email and so on. There are many different ways you can do that and I certainly encourage you to have a discussion with your employees and teams.
Or, if you’re changing your policy or reviewing it then it might be a good time on a yearly basis to get all of your employees together.
To go through it and have a have an open chat about it and to get some feedback. It’s entirely up to you, whichever way you want to approach that.