Health and safety policy: what you need to include
It has become more and more challenging for small businesses to comply with health and safety regulations, especially when part of their workforce operates from an office and part from home.
As Operations Associate at Charlie, it’s my job to make sure that our office is a good place to work. That it’s welcoming and safe, and that it gives my team everything they need to feel good about what they do and where they work. And, as we follow a hybrid working model, I also need to ensure that team members have everything they need to safely and effectively work from home, too.
Putting together an adequate Health and Safety policy is key here.
In this article, I’m sharing our own Health and Safety policy, for you to take inspiration from. Plus, I’m going to run you through some best practice tips that have personally helped me a lot when crafting and updating Charlie’s H&S policy.
Why do you need a health and safety policy?
Any business in the UK needs a health and safety policy if they have more than five employees.
That’s not just best practice, it’s the law. Failure to comply can result in costly fines and harsh legal penalties.
It’s not just a legal protection for your business either, it shows you care about your employees and have their best interests in heart. Having measures in place to protect their safety and well-being can help your team members feel better about their jobs, which helps them stay productive.
Not having a health and safety policy can be a really expensive mistake. The repercussions of failure go beyond fines or even lawsuits, but permanent brand damage.
You have to take steps now to make sure that doesn’t happen.
What should a health and safety policy include?
So much for why you need a company health and safety policy, but what exactly should go in it?
Your policy should clearly outline the procedures and protocols you follow, and your objectives for maintaining a safe workplace.
Here are some of the basics that you need to put in there:
1. Risk assessment
Outline the potential hazards employees might encounter in the workplace and how they can mitigate them. This is important whether your team is remote-first or based in an office. A risk-free work environment is one where things get done.
2. Employee responsibilities
It’s not all about you. Your employees and team members are a part of this conversation, and they play a part in enforcing your health and safety policy as well.
Your employees are responsible for adhering to the guidelines in the policy, including reporting any health and safety issues they encounter.
3. Emergency procedures
You can’t control emergency situations, but you can control how you react to them.
Your health and safety policy should do in case of fire, flooding, or medical emergencies. Schedule regular drills so that everyone knows what to do in case the worst happens.
Charlie’s Health and Safety policy
I’d like to point to the Charlie Health and Safety Policy below as a good example of how to make a health and safety policy for remote workers and office settings.
It includes a budget for ergonomic support for employees working from home and covering the costs of eye tests. Charlie values the well-being of its employees, no matter where they work.
Workplace health and safety at Charlie
We’ll make sure our office space is kept a risk-free, safe environment.
As a company, we have a duty of care towards our team members. We’ll make sure our office space is kept a risk-free, comfortable workspace and provide any necessary health and safety training. We’re a community and so all we ask is that you help us by taking care of yourself too and keeping an eye on each other.
If you need anything to make your set up more comfortable, such as a laptop stand or back support etc., you can use your £500 flexible working budget towards this.
As we spend a lot of time in front of computer and laptop screens, we also need to be careful about causing unnecessary strain on our eyes. So we’ll pay for your eye tests and if it turns out you need some support, we’ll also cover the cost of standard issue glasses.
Tips for writing an effective health and safety policy
There’s a lot that can go wrong if your health and safety policy isn’t airtight or leaves something important out - things you can’t even see right away.
I’d like to offer some tips on how to write your health and safety policy in a way that protects both you and your employees.
1. Keep it simple
Keep it simple, and keep it streamlined, and keep it easy to understand. A policy that has a lot of jargon and legalese is much less likely to be followed. When people don’t follow the policy, mistakes happen and people get hurt. When people get hurt, the lawyers get called.
2. Make it specific to your business
It’s tempting to just use a generic health and safety policy template and call it a day, but it won’t suffice. It will leave open a lot of loopholes and oversights.
It’s best for all concerned that you have something that’s more specific to your business and how it works.
Tailoring your health and safety policy to your business's unique risks and challenges will address the specific conditions your employees will face in their work environment.
3. Update it regularly
Laws and workplace conditions change, all the time. Your health and safety policy should change with them.
Update your policy regularly to ensure that it stays compliant, stays up-to-date with current laws, and remains effective in protecting your team from current and future hazards.
Think of it as a document that changes as your own business does.
Make a squeaky-clean health and safety policy with Charlie’s help
So what’s your next move? Will you sweep health and safety hazards under the regulatory rug, or will you take proactive steps now to make sure they don’t happen in the first place?
Your health and safety policy is a statement of commitment to the well-being of your team. Understand the legal landscape and craft a policy that’s specific to your business and your needs.
You don’t have to do it alone though. I or another HR advisor at Charlie can be there to help you. Together, we can craft a bespoke health and safety policy that protects your employees from hurting themselves and protects you from fines and lawsuits.
The Charlie platform itself can have your health and safety policy sorted, storing all your policies in a place where they can be easily seen and accessed by everyone, so they all know what the rules are. Start a free trial with Charlie today.