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Creating a health and safety policy

Creating a health and safety policy

What is a health and safety policy?

If you employ 5 or more people in your business, you must draw up a written statement setting out the company's policy and the arrangements for health and safety at work. If you employ fewer than 5 people, it's still a good idea to do this. The statement should explain the responsibilities of various individuals and it should contain or refer to your business's rules, regulations and procedures on health and safety. All of the workforce must read this statement.

What law applies?

  • Section 2(3) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • Article 4(3) of the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978

What to include in a health and safety policy

The contents of a health and safety policy will depend on the size and nature of the company.

As a guide, the policy statement should include:

  • The main hazards involved in any work process
  • Rules or regulations relating to the handling of toxic or flammable substances, guarding of machines, protective clothing, etc.
  • Arrangements for consulting with employees on health and safety matters, including the purpose of any safety committee
  • Arrangements for choosing and training safety representatives
  • The functions of safety representatives
  • The responsibilities and functions of the safety officer

If the rules or regulations are long, you could set them out in a separate document. Refer to the document in the policy, saying where employees can find it.

Competent people

You must have one or more 'competent people' to help you apply health and safety rules in the workplace. This person can be an employee or consultant. They should have enough knowledge, skills and experience to carry out the role.

The competent person will need to understand current legislation and standards as it will be their responsibility to ensure risk assessments are done. Ultimately, however, it's your responsibility as an employer to ensure that you've complied with your legal obligations.

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