Safety is something we need to prioritize on a daily basis in our business, but the art of putting a safety policy document in place is not so straightforward. When you employ a certain amount of people, it’s vital for you to ensure that your business has a robust policy in place to manage health and safety. Ultimately, it is the backbone to being compliant while also making sure that your business is running from strength to strength. But what do you need to have in a health and safety policy, and what does it take to employ it effectively?
The Statement of Intent
The first aspect of a proper health and safety policy is the statement of intent. This will say how your business manages health and safety issues and meets the relevant requirements. It all depends on the organization and the workplace location. Many health and safety statements run the risk of making vague promises and pledges. If you are looking to make your health and safety policies strict, you need to incorporate realistic and specific comments.
This could mean identifying main hazards for employees, and incorporating the basic requirements that make a working environment healthy and safe. In addition, you will need to make sure that employees have the ability to carry out a task expected of them, which includes health and safety training, as well as meeting specific targets.
Organizing the Health and Safety Document
The second part of the document sets out who has specific responsibility for health and safety and in what capacity. You can do this with an organizational chart that highlights people in terms of their seniority. When you are defining each individual’s health and safety duties, it’s about making sure each individual is clear about their responsibilities. You may want to incorporate specific components on an individual level, while also ensuring that each individual understands what resources are available to them.
For example, if one individual is responsible for the management of chemical waste, this could spill out into other areas, such as appropriate handling of chemicals, protective equipment, and anything else that is relevant including hazmat storage solutions. Anyone in contact with chemicals in a workplace will need to be equipped with a military hazmat suit, so whoever is in charge of chemical waste will need to make sure the premises is stocked with this. Every employee needs a precise summary of their individual duties. When you are defining the health and safety duties in a document that is to be read by the entire company, it’s not necessary to be too specific. Outlining the responsibilities should be ample.
Arranging the Health and Safety Policy
When you’ve identified exactly what needs addressing, you need to ensure that the arrangements are in place to mitigate risks to those carrying out hazardous activities. This means incorporating details of first aid, additional facilities, as well as a strict procedure for reporting health and safety problems.
Arrangements for additional issues such as health and safety, fire issues, as well as other additional emergencies also need to be incorporated, as well as the essential provisions for each relevant staff member, including information, training, instructions, and supervision. This will be the largest part of your policy and should reflect what you are going to do to mitigate any health and safety issues. Remember, it is vital the employees understand what you need to achieve, which means the document needs to be readable and as free of jargon as possible.
What to Include in the Health and Safety Policy
Every health and safety policy is different depending on the industry and the type of work the business undertakes. There are various components that are general to every business, such as risk assessment procedures, emergency or fire drill procedures, but there are also additional components to consider, which may consist of health and wellbeing, providing welfare facilities, arrangements for consulting with other employees, as well as strict drugs, alcohol, and smoking policy. The list goes on, depending on your industry, and how your business expands.
Ensuring your policy is effective is not so easy, but you can always have additional help in the form of outsourced support. But you may also need to add to your list over time. As you can see, with particular arrangements, they can break down into a variety of subtopics. Once you have got everything ready, it is time to start cascading this to your teams. Ensuring that this is cascaded in an effective way, with sufficient communication, but also with the opportunity for feedback, is of the utmost importance. The importance of putting safety policies in place cannot be underestimated, but when we are trying to make sure that our business is as safe as humanly possible, it needs to be available in black and white for everybody to understand.