If you employ more than five people, by law you need a written health and safety policy. But when you have the document, this isn’t the end of the matter. You need to review and update it, but how and when should you do so?
The importance of an up to date health and safety policy
Your health and safety manual should be ‘up to date’, appropriate for your business, and meet all the legal regulations that help to minimise hazards and risks to your staff. Should the worst happen – and there is an accident – and your health and safety manual and policy is deemed ‘out of date’, your business could be severely affected by fines and loss of reputation.
Hazards change, risks change
Many hazards potentially present a risk to your staff such as environmental factors and the situation in which they work – and these can change. We only have to look at the changes coming to the workplace post-COVID-19 to understand the changes happening in the workplace.
Social distancing in the workplace, for example, between staff and customers is critical and an important part of an updated health and safety policy. Also included would be the use of PPE, as well as training regarding returning to work post-lockdown.
But when should you review your health and safety policy?
When to review your health and safety manual & policy
- Annual – health and safety policies should be reviewed at least annually providing that there are no other incidents
- If there is an accident or major incident – a major incident means that your health and safety manual and policy will need a thorough review
- If the same minor issue keeps happening – monitoring inserts into the accident book will highlight a pattern and could mean that processes need to change
- Keeping pace with industry standards – standards for safety in industries change over time and so if your business is lagging behind, a review is needed
How to conduct a health and safety policy review
Your health and safety policy should be an accurate and appropriate reflection of your business in its current form.
As you meet your goals, your business will change. The way you do things will be updated and may be different from the processes that your policy and processes for safety in the workplace are based on.
A health and safety policy should be both accurate and effective. That means understanding what has changed, the new hazards they present or if risks have changed:
- Conduct thorough inspections of key operational areas, as well as other areas too
- Checking equipment for safety, including protective wear
- Speaking to staff involved in incidents and genuinely listening to concerns and feedback
- Designating a senior employee the role of regular checks on machinery and equipment etc.
- Setting up, following and monitoring maintenance procedures
External health and safety advice
Many people say that health and safety is ‘common sense’, but this alone varies from one person to another. Health and safety experts from outside your organisation bring a fresh set of eyes to objectively appraise health and safety manuals, policies and actions.