writing a health and safety policy

Every organisation must have systems in place to implement and monitor their obligations under the relevant WHS Laws. Health and safety policies are important because they establish arrangements for protecting the health and safety of workers. A written general health and safety policy demonstrates to management, supervisors and workers that there is a commitment to ensuring high standards of health and safety.

The policy should cover some, or all, of the following items: 

• risk assessments

• consultation with employees

• maintaining plant and equipment

• safe handling and use of substances 

• information, instruction and supervision training

• accidents, first aid and ill-health 

• monitoring

• emergency procedures.

Employers are also required to have written risk assessments and these can be included in the overall health and safety policy.

All employees must be made aware of the policy, which should be subject to regular review and revision in the light of experience. Revisions may be in response to changes in the nature of work carried out, new machinery, or any changes in legislation. Again, revisions should be brought to employees’ attention.

Policies should be written in plain English so they can be easily understood and put into practice. To help smaller firms SafeWork SA has produced Seven steps for Small Business, available from www.safework.sa.gov.au > Business and Industry > Small Business. The site also provides a policy template.

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