Under section 2 (3) of the HSWA every employer must prepare, and bring to the notice of his employees, a written statement of his general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of his employees. (See further Leaflet No HSC 6, Guidance Notes on Employers’ Policy Statements for Health and Safety at Work and booklet Writing your

Health and Safety Policy Statement: How to prepare a safety policy statement for a small business (HMSO).)

There is no standard format for a statement of health and safety policy. However, it should take into account the following aspects:

management intent;
the organization and arrangements for implementing the policy;
individual responsibilities and accountabilities of directors, line managers,
employees and other groups, such as contractors working on site; and
the role and function of health and safety specialists, such as health and safety
advisers, occupational health nurses, occupational physicians and trade union
safety representatives.

A statement of health and safety policy has a number of objectives:  it should affirm long-range purpose;  it should commit management at all levels and reinforce this purpose in the decision-making process; and it should indicate the scope left for decision making by junior managers.

The ‘core’ or key elements of a statement are:  A general statement of intent. This should indicate in broad terms the organization’s overall philosophy in relation to the management of health and safety with particular reference to an employer’s duties under section 2 of the HSWA.

Organization. This part is concerned with people and their duties, outlining the chain of responsibility and accountability from the top downwards with respect to the management of health and safety. It might also include a number of other aspects, such as the system for safety monitoring, risk assessment, joint consultation procedures and the system for providing information.

Arrangements. This is a very broad area of policy and deals with the systems and procedures for ensuring and maintaining appropriate levels of health and safety performance. It could include, for instance, the system for identifying training needs and procedures for ensuring health and safety training is undertaken, procedures for operating safe systems of work, health surveillance  arrangements, arrangements for reporting, recording and investigating accidents and ill health, emergency procedures in the event of fire and the regulation of contractor activities on site.

This part of the statement is very much a ‘living document’ and is subject to regular revision and updating in the light of new legislation and changes in the organization’s operations. Many statements of health and safety policy incorporate appendices. These could include, for example a list of the relevant statutory provision that apply to the organization; individual responsibilities of the various levels of management and of employees; specific policies dealing with, for instance:

– smoking at work;
– sickness absence;
– the provision of personal protective equipment; and
– health surveillance procedures for employees.

fatal accident procedure; joint consultation procedures, eg the role and function of the safety committee; procedures to protect visitors; and the hazards that could be encountered by employees and the precaution necessary.

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