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Health and Safety Policy

This Health & Safety Policy sets out the obligations of the company and the rights and responsibilities of employees with regards to health and safety.

What is a Health & Safety Policy?

This health & safety policy sets out the obligations of the company and the rights and responsibilities of employees with regards to health and safety. It should be drafted following completion of a health & safety risk assessment.

Why is a Health & Safety Policy important?

Employers have various legal duties relating to the health and safety of their employees, contractors and members of the public.

If an employer employs 5 people or more, it must have a written statement setting out its general health and safety policy with respect to its employees and organisation (a health and safety policy statement), and the arrangements for carrying out the policy. An employer also has a duty to bring the written statement to the attention of all its employees. Having a written policy like this ensures that both the employer and its staff are clear about their responsibilities, so it is also good practice for employers with fewer than 5 staff to have one.

It is also important to make clear that any breach of the health & safety policy would be treated as misconduct under the company’s disciplinary procedure.

What are the common pitfalls of a Health & Safety Policy?

  1. Not having a Health & Safety Policy
    Employers have various legal duties relating to the health and safety of their employees, contractors and members of the public.

    If an employer employs 5 people or more, it must have a written statement setting out its general health and safety policy with respect to its employees and organisation (a health and safety policy statement), and the arrangements for carrying out the policy. An employer also has a duty to bring the written statement to the attention of all its employees. Having a written policy like this ensures that both the employer and its staff are clear about their responsibilities, so it is also good practice for employers with fewer than 5 staff to have one.

  2. Not tailoring the policy
    This template policy is just a starting point. Employers should carry out detailed risk assessments, which should then feed into the health & safety policy, to ensure that it reflects the nature of the workplace, the industry in which the company operates, and the outcome of the employer's risk assessment.

  3. Having a contractual Health & Safety Policy
    The employment contract contains the terms and conditions that govern an employee’s employment. Generally, changes cannot be made to it without the consent of both parties.

    Normally an employer will want to make changes to its policies and procedures regularly, and in certain situations may not want to be tied to following them to the letter. For these reasons, it is usually advisable for the health & safety policy to be non-contractual, so that it does not form part of the employment contract and changes can be made. Otherwise, it will need to obtain staff agreement to any changes, however small.

    The health & safety policy should therefore clearly state that it is not contractual i.e. that it does not form part of the employment contract.

  4. Including too much legalese and detail
    The best policies are clear, concise and easy to navigate and understand. Policies that are long, unwieldy and full of jargon are unlikely to be used or understood.

  5. Not keeping the Health & Safety Policy up to date
    Employment law in the UK changes frequently. Using a PocketLaw template, and regularly reviewing the finished policy (alongside any updated health & safety risk assessments), ensures that an employer remains legally compliant.

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