What is a Health and Safety Policy?
A health and safety policy are a mandatory requirement for all employers to create a general health and safety approach for the organisation. This policy has its primary focus on how the employer will ensure the safety and well-being of their workers.
Employers need to outline the health and safety policies and procedures of the work setting for all employees, and ensure that they follow the safety guidelines for the work as well.
There is no set requirement for when you should review the health and safety policy of your organisation. Whilst the Health and Safety Executive does offer a recommendation of at least once per year, this is not set in stone.
In reality, you are legally expected to review your health and safety policy whenever it is needed. In other words, you should update your policy as frequently as is necessary to ensure it remains responsive to the changing health and safety risks and issues relevant to your industry and organisation.
Figuring out exactly when this should be can be confusing. So, let’s take a deeper look.
Indications to Update Your Policy
A variety of factors can impact your organisation both internally and externally. Whilst you must ensure that you are continuing to protect your staff with either offline or online health and safety courses, keeping your safety policies updated for your employees and everyone else affected by your business as it develops through these impacts, it isn’t always clear sign when your arrangements have fallen behind.
Due to the grey area, many organisations fail to update their policy as regularly as they should.
Let’s look at some indications that it may be time to update your policy.
It is essential to stay on top of any regulatory changes made that impact your organisation. Legislative updates affecting health and safety occur at least twice a year. In any business with 5 or more employees, an up-to-date policy must be in place. It is a good practice to plan updates for when legal changes come into effect.
With growth in the company often there are new premises that need to be included in the safety policy. If you have expanded operations into new offices or warehouses, you must ensure that you are addressing all of the additional hazards your staff will face. New risks and controls should be outlined in your health and safety policy.
New Equipment or Processes
In updating equipment and introducing new processes, previous safety concerns can often be eliminated. But at the same time, these changes will introduce new hazards or require new practices for working safely. New equipment may require specific safety rules that need to be included in your health and safety policy document.
More than a year has passed since the last review
As mentioned, your health and safety policy should be reviewed at least annually. Perhaps, there has been very little change in staff or internal processes. But it is important to stay in line with the regulatory recommendation. An accident alone is damaging for a company, but an accident in combination with an out-of-date policy is much worse.
Whether bringing on new permanent or temporary staff, you need to ensure that your health and safety policy is properly reviewed and updated. By law, employers are responsible for ensuring they are providing the needed tools and training for all employees, as well as any changes in the workplace.
An accident or a near miss occurred
Although your policy may provide a threshold for accidents, you should review your safety policy after every incident. You need to ensure that your policy is up to date and complete. In addition, you should review the controls that are currently in place to understand how the incident occurred, and what you can do to prevent them in the future.
Updating your risk assessment and risk identification documents could be useful in such cases as well. If you need to know how often should you review a documented risk assessment, a yearly review as well as a review after every incident should be viable.
Concerns from your staff
The input from those doing the work at the sharp end is invaluable when it comes to gauging if your policy is functioning as it should. When concerns are raised regarding safety issues, concerns or questions, it is important to recognise it as the opportunity that it is. Does your policy address the hazards that your staff are spotting? Do they agree that it meets their needs?
Your Health and Safety Policy Must Adapt
Changes within your organisation to staff, the workplace, working methods or your sector will all impact the risks and hazards within your organisation. Monitoring and reviewing of your policy will not just help prevent the worst from happening, but also help you to avoid massive fines in the wake of an incident. You must see your policy as a document with the flexibility to move with your organisation.
Human Focus offers advice on How often should health and safety policies be reviewed, regulatory changes, as well as innovative health and training solutions to ensure you are covered and compliant.