Writing a health and safety policy

The law requires every firm, no matter what the nature of its business, with five employees or more to have a written health and safety policy.

The policy should cover some, or all, of the following items: 

• risk assessments

• consultation with employees

• maintaining plant and equipment

• safe handling and use of substances 

• information, instruction and supervision training

• accidents, first aid and ill-health 

• monitoring

• emergency procedures.

Employers are also required to have written risk assessments and these can be included in the overall health and safety policy.

All employees must be made aware of the policy, which should be subject to regular review and revision in the light of experience. Revisions may involve changes in the nature of work carried out, new machinery or any changes in legislation. Again, revisions should be brought to employees’ attention.

The Health and Safety Executive recommends policies should be simple so they can be easily understood and put into practice. To help smaller firms prepare their policy, the HSE has produced templates and examples, available from its website: www.hse.gov.uk.