When it comes to managing the safety of our workplaces, we all want to do a good job providing a healthy, secure environment for our employees. However, it can be hard to know where to start.
This is where writing a Health and Safety policy is invaluable to the responsible business owner.
What is a Health and Safety policy?
An H&S policy transparently outlines what steps you, as management, will take to promote these virtues in the workplace. The best policies are workplace-specific and reflect the nature of the hazards and risks for that particular industry.
Depending on what kind of business you’re in, the actions outlined in your health and safety policy will be different, but the intent is always the same: to set a concrete structure of responsibilities in place.
But I’m still a small venture, you might say. Do I really need a Health and Safety policy?
Actually, any company in the UK with over five employees legally must have a documented Health and Safety policy. But really, all companies, no matter their size, should take the time to address this.
The Health and Safety policy for a small business can be a simple one-page document, but it still gets all your employees on board and aware of risks and the responsibilities of their employer and themselves as employees. In the long run, a well-thought-out policy will cut down on and prevent accidents and other incidents, and that will benefit your business in multiple ways.
A Good Health and Safety Policy
A good H&S policy will start with a statement of intent. This is where you announce, as a company and as a leader, your commitment to providing a safe, healthy working environment for your staff.
Next, provide a list of who is directly responsible for what. This critical part means you must sit down and detail the potential risks, how best to prevent accidents and breaches of health and safety laws, and who is in the best position to be responsible for the structure and implementation of your decisions. The list also provides accountability for both you as a business owner and your supervisors.
Finally, include information about how the most important health and safety issues will be addressed. The policy doesn’t need to be involved or overwhelming; simple directness and easy readability are best. Templates to help you craft a Health and Safety policy are available online.
When determining what should be included as possible hazards and risks in the workplace, it’s always a good idea to consult your staff. Many companies will have an employee prepare the policy with input from their team members. And, of course, once the H&S policy is written, it has to be implemented. Presenting a policy that is supposed to increase your employees’ trust in you has the opposite effect if the measures are not taken seriously.
No matter what size your business is, it’s best to build a good foundation early on so that as your business grows, risk assessment and mitigation grow with you. A good Health and Safety policy will start you on the right path to a safe, secure working environment for everyone. If you need any more information don’t hesitate to get in touch.