Ten steps to creating a health and safety policy that works

By: Guest contributor

Date: 20 November 2013

10 steps to creating a health and safety policy that works/Prohibited circle smoking{{}}By law, if your business employs five or more people, you need to have a written health and safety policy. If you own a business where your employees face risks, whether that’s manual labour, operating machinery or handling hazardous chemicals, you need to understand your responsibilities as an employer to control, promote and develop health and safety policies and practices.

An effective health and safety policy doesn’t necessarily need to be difficult or time-consuming. Here is my ten-step process that will give you an idea what you and your employees will need to do.

Who’s in charge?

Depending on the size of your business or the specialisms of particular employees, you will need to assign someone to oversee your health and safety duties. It is a good idea to work alongside someone who has prior experience or knowledge of health and safety. If no one fits the bill, you can always seek outside advice or consultancy.

Starting the policy

Initially, depending on your industry, it is worth looking into specific laws relating to high-risk workplaces. Your health and safety policy will communicate to your employees your on-going commitment to the issue.

Does that look like a risk to you?

Health and safety is all about risk prevention, and in worst-case scenarios, what to do if an accident occurs. First, start by assessing potential risks in the workplace. Once these have been documented, state what you are doing, or have done, to control those risks.

What do your employees think?

Once you have done your risk assessment, consult your employees and communicate your findings and solutions. It may be that the people who work in these risk-filled scenarios can produce a more effective solution – or point out additional risks you may have not considered.

Educate employees

Every employee, whether they work onsite or are regular contactors/self-employed individuals, should be given information relating to risk management and health and safety policies. Regular training is crucial in delivering this, as well as updates if new risks or equipment arise.

Create the right conditions for safety

In order to have effective health and safety in the workplace, you need to have the right kind of workplace. There should be universal facilities catering to all employees, especially access for people with disabilities. Again, it is worth looking again at the laws relating to high-risk workplaces.

What to do if an accident occurs

The most important step to take in having the right procedures in place if an accident or illness occurs is first aid. This can be crucial in saving lives. Have a first aid box, as well as employees who are trained in first aid. If an incident occurs, make sure it is logged. This will indicate if a pattern emerges, as well as being useful if an employee makes a claim.

Ensure a health and safety law poster is visible

It is your legal duty as an employer to display the health and safety law poster in a prominent position where all employees can see it.

Assurance through insurance

If one of your employees chooses to claim compensation after a work-related accident or injury, employers’ liability insurance will help meet the cost of any compensation pay out. By law, employers must have employers’ liability insurance.

Review and develop your policy

There are many factors that could change once you write your policy. Health and safety laws could be updated, your workplace may relocate or you may want to adopt more efficient policies learned from partners or competitors. Review your policy regularly and make sure that all of your employees are educated on any changes.

Supplied by Malcolm Tranter of Maple Fleet Services, provider of safety solutions for the road haulage industry.

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