A Health & Safety (H&S) policy is a written promise of the Business Owners and the Senior Management to provide a healthy and safe workplace. The starting point, the foundation of Health and Safety in the workplace.
Many Occupational Health & Safety Regulations require that policy is developed, all workers are aware of and be trained on the policy (document, document, document). The policy is posted in the workplace, reviewed at least annually and a program is developed and maintained to implement the policy. This statement provides the regulatory requirement for a Health and Safety Management System (HSMS) in the workplace. Check your local regulatory requirements. We will review the Health and Safety Management System (HSMS) requirements in further detail later in this article.
A quick Google search can provide thousands of examples of Workplace Health & Safety policies to obtain some suggestions to start yours. Please note that this exercise is to view different policies and commitments – We should not just Copy, Cut and Paste. That said, please search Google for these three policies to view a variety of policies. (Not allowed to have links in this article – sorry)
Bruce Power (Nuclear Power Company) Occupational Health & Safety Policy
Shell (Oil & Gas Company) Health, Safety & Environment
IHC (Advocates and Support Services) Health & Safety Policy Statement
You will notice that these policies from Companies all over the world and vastly different sizes and sectors, but they do have many similar sections.
Commitment: To provide a healthy and safe workplace for everyone their workers, contractors, and visitors. Meet or exceed the legal requirements.
The Goal: To eliminate all injuries and illness towards zero harm or injury free.
Responsibility: Management has accepted their responsibility to provide a healthy and safe workplace. Define that safety is everyone's responsibility – all employees
The reason for the similarities is due in part by most of these sections being defined in the various regulations and international standards.
ISO Standard 45001
One of the international standards that will help improve workplace health & safety is the new ISO (International Standards Organization) 45001. Here is a section taken from the draft standard on the subject of Health and Safety Policies.
Top management shall establish, implement and maintain an OH&S policy that includes a commitment to provide safe and healthy working conditions for the prevention of work-related injury and / or ill health and is appropriate to the purpose, the size, and context of the organization and to the specific nature of its OH&S risks and OH&S opportunities.
The standard provides very similar direction contained in the various regulatory and highlights the requirement to ensure the policy is based on the organizations "specific nature of its OH&S risks and OH&S opportunities. While similar in some sections the workplace health and safety policy needs to be workplace specific based on your identified risks, from your risk assessment.
Health & Safety Management System (HSMS)
In addition to developing a workplace health and safety policy, the employer is required (in some jurisdictions) to have a program to implement the policy. An HSMS is a collection of policies and procedures based on the specific workplace risks.
Common Sections – Worker Orientations, First Aid, Wellness, Fire Prevention, Worker Training, Workplace Inspections, Incident & Near Miss Investigations, Hazard Reporting, Indoor Air Quality, Ergonomics, Safe Lifting, Violence & Harassment, Safety Meetings, etc.
The other sections would be workplace hazard specific and could include sections on, Confined Space Entry, Hot Work Permits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Arc Flash, etc.
The expectation would be that a commitment to provide a healthy and safe workplace is made with the policy and the HSMS is the how you will achieve this.
The policy is signed by the person or persons responsible for ensuring the health and safety of the employees – usually the most senior person – President, Chief Operating Officer, etc. If your company is large with many locations, have the President sign and the most senior person at the facility. You can also invite Union Representatives sign on to the policy and all of your employees.
The policy should be reviewed and signed each year. Review the policy with your employees at least once per year and post it in your workplace where people are most likely to come into contact with it.
Keep Your Promise
Make your H&S Policy as unique as your business, engage your employees in the development of the policy and make it available in your workplace on the internet. In a tightened Labor market people want to work for companies that care about them. Showing your commitment in writing and following through will make you a safe employer people want to work with.