How Often Should A Health And Safety Policy Be Reviewed?

IOSH By Matthew Coombes

What is a health and safety policy?

Your health and safety policy document should be a statement of intent to manage health and safety. This document will include information about your workplace, and the arrangements that you intend to put in place to manage health and safety, such as, who will have responsibilities for what.

The policy is how you will show your employees and the outside world what your objective is in regards to maintaining health and safety.

Many large organisations will require your health and safety policy, and other relevant policies at the tendering process as a means to check your commitment towards health and safety, as an assurance that your link in the supply chain will not be broken.

As a general guide, your policy should include:

  1. A statement of intent, and what the aims of the policy are
  2. An organisational chart that details who holds what positions
  3. The responsibilities of key roles
  4. Arrangements in place for managing health and safety
  5. A signed declaration by senior leadership

Reacting to change

Your statement of intent within the policy needs to remain stable so that you can provide a clear and consistent intention of your aims to maintain health and safety. However, other details within the policy may need to be updated, for example, if there are changes in the ways of working.

With the coronavirus pandemic, many arrangements for keeping workers safe have changed, including new social distancing measures, staff testing, reducing/staggering attendance to sites, increasing ventilation, and where applicable, working from home. All of these changes in the ways of working may need to be included in the policy arrangements.

When do you need to review your health and safety policy?

You should review your health and safety policy every year and make changes where they are needed. Sometimes the best way to do this is to review them at the start of each year.

At ACT we review our documents in January, but many companies go by the start of their financial year, rather than the start of the lunar year, or they update the policy one year after it was instated, so it could need updating at any time during the year.

Your policy should include a signed declaration by leadership, which should be dated with when it was signed.

Reacting to change

Your policy document should stay stable enough that you can use it to maintain consistency within the organisation. However, you may need to review and potentially update the document in the face of significant change.

This would usually include:

  • If you have key personnel leave the organisation who are responsible for managing health and safety
  • If there is a change in important legislation or information that relates to your operations
  • When there is a significant change in leadership
  • When adopting a new management system standard such as ISO 45001, ISO 14001 or ISO 9001

Emerging technologies, new ways of doing things and published research mean that health and safety is always changing to some extent in some area, somewhere. A good example of this is that the health and safety executive frequently ask the industries that use chemicals about to consult on creating guidance and updating legislation. Following this consultation, they may release new procedures or information that will change the way that your organisation is run.

Although your arrangements will change, it is not always necessary to update your entire health and safety policy in response to every minor change, you may just need to update the affected sections.

Want to learn more?

Policy is the overall statement of intent to manage health and safety, and a strong health and safety policy is often a good way for leaders to show their intent and to positively influence health and safety culture within a corporate organisation. To learn more about health and safety leadership, we have two accredited qualifications:

NEBOSH HSE Certificate in Health and Safety Leadership Excellence

IOSH Safety for Executives and Directors

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