Apart from the need to keep good personnel records for example, sickness absence and time off you must keep various documents in order to comply with Health & Safety requirements. So how do you know if your business is one that requires a written health and safety policy? And, if you need one, what areas should it cover?

Legal requirements

The governing legislation in this area is the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA). It says that any employer with five or more employees must have a written health and safety policy in place. If an HSE inspector pays a company a visit, it is the first document he will ask to see. But what if you don’t have one available for his inspection? Under the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008, failure to have one could mean prosecution. The maximum fine the courts can impose is £20,000, plus up to 12 months’ imprisonment, or both.

Policy must-haves

To fully comply with the HSWA, your policy must contain:

l Responsibilities it must specifically name those individuals responsible for health and safety matters for example directors and managers, as well as stating general employee duties.

l Consultation it should set out how you will consult with staff over any issues for example, via a health and safety committee, or regular updates.

l Risk management any significant risks that staff could be exposed to for example chemicals must be identified and the way you will manage them clearly set out.

l Training you must give full details of what training will provide and maintain a safe workplace and what emergency procedures will be implemented.

Note: the policy should be signed and dated by a company director or owner.

New style of policy