A health and safety policy template sets out your arrangements for health and safety at your workplace. Staff handbook and policies includes a health and safety policy template; you can choose to generate the policy either on its own or as part of a full staff handbook.
Your health and safety policy template should include details of who is responsible for health and safety, how you will protect, train and consult with your staff, and how often the policy is to be reviewed. If you have five or more employees, you are legally required to provide them with a written health and safety policy. If you have fewer than five employees, it is still best practice to have a written health and safety policy. It is usually sensible to review your policy annually, but if there are any changes to your workplace premises, systems of work, or staff numbers you should also review your health and safety policy at that time.
- Health and safety policy template: the basics
- Reviewing your health and safety policy template
- Key health and safety requirements to consider
- Appointing a health and safety representative
- Providing health and safety training to your staff
Health and safety policy template: the basics
What should my health and safety policy template say?
Your health and safety policy does not have to be complex. The HSE recommends you include:
- the different people who are responsible for each area of health and safety within your business, and who is responsible overall;
- your arrangements to:
- prevent accidents and illness, and control work-related health and safety risks (this will include doing risk assessments);
- provide health and safety training to staff so that they are able to work properly and safely;
- consult employees on day-to-day health and safety issues, and provide advice and supervision regarding health and safety in the workplace;
- evacuate your premises in case of fire or another emergency; and
- inspect and maintain your business premises and work equipment, so that your workplace is clean, tidy and safe;
- where you have put up the poster ‘Health and Safety Law: What you need to know‘ (it is a legal requirement to either display this poster or provide the HSE approved leaflet to your staff instead), and where your first-aid box and accident book are located; and
- how often the policy is to be reviewed.
You can find a health and safety policy template at Staff handbook and policies; you can choose to generate the policy either on its own or as part of a full staff handbook.
Am I legally required to have a written health and safety policy template?
If you have five or more employees, you must provide them with a written statement of your general health and safety policy. However, it is generally a good idea to have a written health and safety policy even if you have fewer than five employees. It will make your health and safety arrangements clearer for your staff, and indicate your commitment to managing health and safety properly.
Staff handbook and policies includes a health and safety policy; you can choose to generate the policy either on its own or as part of a full staff handbook.
What happens if I do not have a proper health and safety policy?
You do not have to provide a written health and safety policy if you have fewer than five employees, but it is generally a good idea to do so. If you have more than five employees and do not have a written health and safety policy, you are breaking the law and the HSE can take action against you to make you comply, up to and including prosecution.
See Investigations and prosecutions for full details of the HSE’s powers to deal with health and safety breaches.
What should my health and safety policy say about staff who drive for work?
If you have staff who drive, cycle or ride a motorbike for work (this includes those who use their own vehicle for work-related journeys, but does not include commuting to and from work), you need to specifically manage the risks to their health and safety so far as reasonably practicable the same way you do for other work activities. As part of managing road-safety risks, it is good practice to have a company policy on work-related road safety. The policy should cover, for example: driver safety and training, vehicle maintenance, journey planning, drivers using their own vehicles, mobile phone use, drinking and driving, insurance, convictions or disqualification, medical conditions affecting the ability to drive and accident reporting.
Reviewing your health and safety policy template
Do I have to review my health and safety policy?
If you have five or more employees, you are legally required both to have a written health and safety policy and to review it as often as is appropriate for your business.
How often should I review my health and safety policy?
There is no legally specified time within which you must review your policy, but for most businesses an annual review is sensible. Review may also be prompted more frequently by events in your business such as changes to your premises, number of staff or systems of work. Tell your staff about any changes you make. This helps to ensure your policy is effective.
Key health and safety requirements to consider
What health and safety requirements must I consider when fitting out my premises?
If you are an employer, you have a broad duty to look after the health and safety of your staff, as well as any visitors to your business premises eg customers, suppliers or contractors. This includes making sure your business premises comply with health and safety regulations.
You must also consider the needs of any disabled staff or visitors as part of your fit-out.
To assist when designing a fit out, consider the following:
- Hygiene and welfare
Sufficient toilet and washing facilities and rest areas for staff.
- Physical layout of your premises
Giving staff and customers enough space, and enabling them to move safely about your premises eg by providing handrails.
- Comfortable temperature and adequate ventilation
Ensuring a comfortable work environment.
- Fire safety
For example, providing proper firefighting equipment and escape routes.
For example, displaying a health and safety poster and no smoking signs.
- First aid
Ensuring you have the proper first aid equipment and facilities on hand.
- Electrical safety
Ensuring electrical installations meet the required standards.
For guidance on the sort of action you should take throughout the year for good health and safety, see Annual action plan (health and safety).
Do I have to consider health and safety facilities if I run a business from my home?
You still have to think about your health and safety obligations to staff or any visitors if you run your business from your home. They are the same regardless of the sort of premises from which you run your business. What is reasonable will be different for business premises that are part of a home than those which are in a building designed for commercial use.
Do I have to put someone in charge of health and safety?
Yes. You must appoint at least one person to take overall charge of health and safety in your business, and at least one person to take charge of fire safety and emergency evacuations.
Depending on the size of your business and the hazards involved, you may also need a trained first-aider and to appoint fire marshals.
If your business is small and low risk, a number of these functions could be fulfilled by the same person in-house, although you must always consider what happens on days that the individual is not at work.
Appointing a health and safety representative
Can I appoint one person to deal with all health and safety matters in my business?
Yes, in some circumstances. You need only make sure that you appoint enough people to get the job done. Larger businesses or those with higher health and safety risks will likely require more people to be appointed as responsible for different aspects of health and safety.
Remember that you must have proper provision for health and safety when anyone holding a position of responsibility for it is not at work. For example, there are specific rules about first-aid cover if you have a qualified first-aider and they are away. Similarly, you must ensure that you appoint enough people to assist with fire safety (evacuations, use of firefighting equipment etc) to ensure that there will always be cover, for example during staff absences, and covering all shift times.
Who should I put in charge of health and safety?
You must appoint someone with enough training and knowledge to do the job. If there is a suitable employee available you must appoint them as opposed to an external person (eg a health and safety consultant).
When you have chosen someone to take responsibility for health and safety, you must ensure that they have:
- any information they need to fulfill their duties (eg records of any past risk assessments); and
- enough time in their work schedule to do the job (this may mean you have to appoint more than one person to be in charge of health and safety compliance).
You may also need to appoint people to assist with carrying out the day to day health and safety processes in your business, eg a first-aider and one or more fire marshals.
Do I need to hire external health and safety experts?
Not necessarily. If you have a suitable employee available to deal with your health and safety requirement, you must appoint them as opposed to an external person (eg an occupational health consultant).
However, it may be that you need additional assistance, for example if your business has areas of high risk to health and safety or there are technical issues around your health and safety (eg in manufacturing).
Can my employees appoint a health and safety representative?
Unless all your employees are members of a recognised trade union with its own safety representative, they can elect someone to represent the group in any consultations about health and safety.
If you recognise a trade union, they can appoint a safety representative to advance the interests of their members in your workforce.
Providing health and safety training to your staff
Do I need to provide health and safety training to my staff?
Yes, you do. You must give your staff the training and information they need to do their job safely. What is required will vary enormously depending on the nature of your business and the role that the staff member is doing. For example, an office worker will likely only require simple instructions about workstation set-up and good housekeeping practices.
When should I give health and safety training?
You must provide health and safety training for staff whenever you think they need it to be safe, and in particular:
- when they first start working for you;
- if they need it because something has changed that affects it, specifically if:
- they have been transferred internally or their responsibilities have changed;
- there is a change to the equipment or technology they work with ; or
- there is a change to their system of work.
Should I give regular health and safety refresher training?
Yes. Even if nothing changes, your staff health and safety training must be repeated if appropriate to maintain standards.
The frequency with which you should repeat training will depend entirely on your circumstances. Certain staff, such as those with less experience or those exposed to more hazards, are likely to require more frequent refresher training. Even in low-risk businesses like offices, you may find it is worth reminding staff about proper workstation set-up periodically.
You can find more guidance about health and safety training at Health and safety training for staff.
Marion joined Sparqa Legal as a Senior Legal Editor in 2018. She previously worked as a corporate/commercial lawyer for five years at one of New Zealand’s leading law firms, Kensington Swan (now Dentons Kensington Swan), and as an in-house legal consultant for a UK tech company. Marion regularly writes for Sparqa’s blog, contributing across its commercial, IP and health and safety law content.