Every business in the UK has to have a Health and Safety Policy and those businesses with five or more employees must have that policy written down. This is a guide to help you write your own policy using a free template which you can download from here:
Download your free Health & Safety Policy Template
The purpose of having a policy is to explain how you deal with health and safety in your place of work. Your policy should demonstrate your commitment to managing health and safety and explain how this will be done.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, there should be three elements to a Health & Safety Policy, which are:
- a general statement about the policy of your organisation and your intentions,
- details of who is responsible for each area or action and
- the detail of what you are doing on a day to day basis to ensure that your policy is implemented.
Start by downloading your free Health And Safety Policy Template. This is a Word document and you will need to edit it to make it relevant to your own business or organisation. Instructions for doing this are given below.
The template we have provided follows the HSE guidance and uses a structure that makes is easy to provide the required information. There is no need to overcomplicate this. If your business is relatively small and straightforward, your H & S policy should be too.
How To Complete The Template:
General Statement Of Policy
This statement is by its nature quite general, so the wording in the template may well be adequate for your organisation without any changes. Otherwise feel free to amend it to suit what you wish to say. The purpose of this section is to acknowledge your obligations under health and safety legislation and give an overview of how you will meet these.
This has to be signed and dated by the most senior person in your organisation, which will generally be the Managing Director or CEO.
Section A: Responsibilities For Health And Safety
In this section you will set out the main people responsible for health and safety issues. Please note that all the other sections also have a place to specify who is responsible for that particular area of work.
In small businesses it may well be the same person named in all of these, but in larger organisations there can be several different people involved. The template allows for naming responsible people in two different places of work. If you have more than two work areas just copy and repeat the boxes so that you cover each one. Just expand of reduce the template to suit your business.
Section B: Accident prevention, reporting and investigation:
Include all details of your accident reporting system; what you use for recording accidents, where these are kept, who is expected to fill out the reports, who do they go to, etc. Who are your appointed first aiders and who is responsible for keeping stocks and supplies up to date in first aid boxes. Who has responsibility for reporting under RIDDOR?
Include any arrangements you have for reviewing or reporting on accident records to check for patterns or identifying procedures that need changing.
Section C: Control of Hazards and Risks arising from workplace activities:
All employers have to carry out risk assessments, which are the best way to identify potential hazards and work out how to control risks. As with the H&S Policy, you have to have a written record of your assessments if you have five or more employees.
Your risk assessments should cover every aspect of your business and be the main way in which you identify and manage hazards and risks. A hazard is anything that has the potential to harm someone and a risk is the likelihood that it could actually happen. You should use a form that allows you to clearly set out the hazards, who is at risk, what action you are already taking and what else you need to take. It is also sensible to be able to assign responsibility for any action that is required.
You can download a free Risk Assessment Form here.
Use this section of the policy to specify who is responsible for carrying out risk assessments and who looks after COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous To Health) arrangements.
Section D: Staff Training, including safety training and evacuation practice:
Proper training for staff is important for several reasons. You have to ensure that everyone has been shown how to do their job safely. Clearly this is more complex in some businesses than others, such as operating machinery or working with dangerous chemicals. If you have induction processes which cover this type of training, explain who is responsible and how this works.
You may have staff who need to have certain qualifications or training before they can undertake particular duties. An example could be operating a fork lift truck or working on access equipment. Explain whether you have any situations like this and how you ensure that this training happens.
You can also use this section to cover how you deal with safety training, such as first aid at work, fire marshal training, instruction and practice on evacuations, operating fire alarm systems, COSHH, etc.
Section E: Co-ordination of dialogue between management and employees on matters of Health and Safety:
You can use this section to give details of any arrangements you have for consulting with staff and passing on information about health and safety issues.
For example, you may have regular staff meetings where health and safety is always an agenda item. If an employee has a concern about a health or safety issue, is it easy for them to bring this to the attention of management, and how would this be done? In larger organisations there may be trade union representatives or staff reps who have a function in taking forward any concerns of employees.
Section F: Devising and implementing emergency procedures, including fire risk assessment and emergency evacuation plan:
There are certain very important arrangements that need to be in place to ensure the safety of staff and protection of your premises. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order employers need to carry out a fire risk assessment and pass on the findings of this to staff. You also need to have an emergency plan in place that explains all your arrangements for dealing with fire and other emergency situations.
It should be clear who is responsible for making sure these things are in place, for communicating their contents to employees and for taking any action that arises from them.
Section G: Monitoring and Maintaining all equipment, plant and machinery, including adequate maintenance contracts, PAT testing and fire door maintenance:
The needs of a small office will naturally be quite different to that of a large factory full of plant and machinery, so just tailor this to your own situation. Your duty is to ensure that any equipment in your workplace is safe to use and properly maintained. Use your policy to explain what arrangements you have in place to ensure that this is the case. Mention any maintenance contracts that you have for machinery, etc, and if you don’t have contracts, give details of how you ensure that equipment is always safe to use.
Portable electrical appliances are one of the most common causes of fire and you are required to ensure that any items of portable electrical equipment are regularly tested. Give details of how you do this.
Section H: Maintaining and monitoring all emergency equipment, including fire fighting equipment, emergency lighting and fire alarms systems:
Having appropriate emergency equipment in place is important, but by its very nature a lot of it is seldom, if ever, used. No amount of equipment is of any use if it fails on that rare occasion when you do have an emergency and desperately need it.
So in this section you should explain what arrangements you have in place to inspect, test and service emergency lighting, fire alarm systems and fire fighting equipment.
Section I: Health & Safety Law posters are on display in the following locations:
You are required by law to display one of these posters, so give details of where this can be found.
Section J: First Aid boxes can be found in the following locations:
Give details of all locations in your premises where first aid kits are located.
What To Do With Your Policy
When you have completed your Health and Safety Policy you need to make sure it is signed by the most senior person in your organisation. You then need to bring it to the attention of all your employees. It should be regularly reviewed and updated, and when any changes are made, this information too needs to be passed on to your employees.
Remember that this is not just a paper exercise, but a legal document and a record of what your systems and processes are. So make sure that whatever you say you will do in your policy is actually being done.
The above sections are only a guide, intended to cover most small businesses. You may have other things that you want to include, so feel free to add to the policy as you need to. Other areas that you could cover too might include policy on drugs and alcohol, use of company vehicles and provision of personal protective equipment.