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A health and safety policy is a plan detailing how you are going to manage health and safety in your business. It is a unique document that defines who does what, when and how they do it.
If your business employs less than five people you are not legally required to have a written health and safety policy statement. However, you must still ensure that you work safely, and a written policy can help you do this.
Your written health and safety policy doesn't need to be complicated. Keep it simple and make sure that you and your employees are following it and reviewing it regularly.
Your policy should be set out in three parts:
1. Statement of Intent (what you intend to do)
This statement of intent section sets out your commitment to health and safety and the ways in which you will manage it. The most senior person in the business must sign and date this section.
2. Organisation (who will be involved)
This organisation section of your policy should clearly name those who will have health and safety responsibilities in your business. The overall responsibility for safety rests on the employer, but day-to-day responsibility can be delegated to others within the business.
3. Arrangements (how you will put it into place)
The arrangements section of your policy should outline how you will meet the commitments you have made in your statement of intent. It details the measures, systems and procedures you will put into place to eliminate or reduce as far as is reasonably practicable the risks posed by the hazards in your workplace. This content of this section will be largely shaped by your risk assessment.
Visit the Health and Safety Executive's website to download a policy template.
You have a legal duty to consult with your employees on matters to do with their safety at work. You are also legally required to bring the statement of intent section of your policy to the attention of your employees and let them know where to find the more detailed arrangements sections.
In practice, it can be useful to involve your employees in preparing and implementing the health and safety policy. Where employees are involved in devising safe working methods, they may be more likely to adhere to them, because they will understand the reasoning behind them. Also, the person who is actually doing a job can be best placed to advise on whether the proposed safe working method will work.
If you require help with something in this section, please contact us.