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How to Write and Implement a UK Workplace Health and Safety Policy
Around the world a worker will die from a work-related accident or illness every 15 seconds, and another 153 workers will be injured, according to the International Labour Organization.
Globally, there are 2.3 million deaths a year and a staggering 317 million accidents. Having a health and safety policy can help mitigate or even eliminate risk from a business and shows how seriously an organisation takes its responsibilities to all workers.
It’s not just larger businesses that need such a policy. Health and safety is a concern for any business, whatever the size of the company, to make sure both employees and customers are safe.
The law is constantly evolving but, however much it changes and whatever country you are based in, some things remain the same: doing what is reasonable to ensure health and safety, workers having a duty of care to themselves, other workers and customers or the public, and an employer having overall responsibility for anyone affected by the business. Those are all basic tenets of the UK’s Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 but they apply in many other countries around the world.
Some of these legal duties can be dealt with through common sense but having a written health and safety policy helps lay it out for workers, making procedures and regulations clear. Indeed, if a company employs more than five people in the UK then it is legally obliged to have a written health and safety policy.
Randstad’s HR digital handbook Workpocket gives you all the information you need to successfully write a health and safety policy in the UK, as well as lots of other important tips and advice for HR professionals. But here are a few things to look at to get you started.
What you should include in a workplace health and safety policy
Different countries will have different regulations but, whatever the nature and location of your business, it is good practice to have a written health and safety policy. Indeed, if you have five or more employees in the UK you are required by law to have a written health and safety policy.
The things you’ll need to include in your policy are:
- Accidents, first aid and ill-health: This will include information about the procedure to be followed in the event of an accident, and how it will be investigated to ensure future accidents don’t occur. It will also provide information about what workers should do if they fall ill, who they should contact and any action to be taken. And finally, it will tell employees what first aid provision is available.
- Monitoring: Measuring your performance and regularly checking that you are managing and reviewing the risks and procedures is vital. Your policy can include information about how this monitoring takes place, how often and who is responsible for it.
- Emergency procedures: This will document special procedures in place for certain situations such as serious injury or fire, for example. In the event of a major incident at your workplace, this could involve evacuating staff or public and liaising with emergency services.
- Risk assessments: Risk assessments involve looking at the potential hazards, who might be harmed by them and how, what steps you’re already taking to minimise those risks and any future steps that could also be taken.
- Consultation with employees: Consultation and collaboration with your employees plays an important part in maintaining health and safety. It helps you to spot the risks, makes sure the ways you deal with them are practical, increases employee participation in health and safety and allows you to get feedback on how the policy is working.
- Maintaining plant and equipment: Some businesses will have lots of equipment to maintain, others will have just office equipment, depending on the nature of their business. Maintenance is carried out to ensure it is in proper working order and any faults are repaired. This part will detail how this maintenance is to be carried out and what happens in the event of a fault or breakdown.
- Safe handling and use of substances: Many substances are harmful and as such their use needs to be closely monitored. This section will detail the procedures that should be followed to ensure staff remain safe and what happens in the event of a spillage or accident.
- Information, instruction and supervision training: The UK Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to provide whatever training, supervision and information is reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety of all employees. This section will provide information on how and when training is given and by who.
Your policy should be clear and easy to understand and implement. You’ll also need to make your employees aware of it.
You should also review your policy regularly and make your employees aware of any changes.
The UK Health and Safety Executive has put together a series of templates for smaller business to make it easier for you to put your policy together, while the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in the US also provides extensive guidance.
What you Should Include in a Workplace Risk Assessment
Risk assessment involves looking at what things could cause harm to others and what reasonable steps are to be put in place to prevent those risks. It’s not about generating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather helping you to clearly define sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace.
You may already do this as a matter of course but writing it down helps clarify what needs to be looked at and helps you to decide if you have covered everything or not.
The steps that should be followed are:
- Identify the risks and hazards
- Decide who might be harmed and how
- Look at steps to be taken to minimise or eliminate risk
- Record your findings
- Review your risk assessment regularly and update as required
What is Workpocket?
Workpocket is Randstad’s easy-to-use online tool for HR managers across the globe. Whether you work as part of a multinational corporation, or you are just one of a handful of employees in a small business, Workpocket provides a wealth of practical information surrounding the employment cycle.
There are hundreds of articles and valuable advice available on everything from recruitment and selection to performance management, as well as guidance on health and safety issues.
How Workpocket can help you as an HR professional?
As a busy HR professional you don’t always have the time to sit down and wade through reams of paperwork. Workpocket can give you the relevant information at the click of a mouse. It also offers you over 80 different HR scenarios which make learning more fun, relevant and interactive. You can dip in and out when you need to so you can quickly check some information mid meeting or brush up on your HR knowledge on the commute home.
About the Author
This article is supplied by Randstad, one of the leading recruitment & HR services providers in the world with a top three position in the UK and the United States.