Have you been asked for a health and safety policy, procedures or manual? Here’s what you need to know

What is a health and safety policy?

A Health and safety policy outlines your commitment as a business to providing a safe and healthy workplace and preventing work-related injury and illness. It generally outlines, how the business will effectively manage health and safety. Some businesses will choose to have additional supporting policies on specific areas of health and safety such as mental health, injury management and alcohol and other drugs.

What are health and safety procedures? 

Health and safety procedures are how you will effectively manage health and safety.  

Typically there are two types of procedures:

  1. Company level procedures will explain how the business will operate safely and what everyone’s commitment to health and safety looks like. It will also explain what procedures are in place to manage risks across the whole business, and what to do if something goes wrong. Examples include incident management and risk management.
  2. Task or job-specific procedures, more commonly referred to as Safe Operating Procedures and Safe Work Instructions. These procedures provide more detail such as direction on how to perform the task or job safely e.g. operating a grinder or operating a forklift on-site. 

Regardless of what procedures you intend to have for your business, ensure you develop procedures in consultation with your workers.

Why does my trade business or building company need to document our health and safety policies and procedures?

Employers under Legislation have a primary duty of care to ensure that workers are safe from injury and risks to health and this includes:

  • Providing and maintaining a healthy and safe work environment
  • Providing adequate information, training, instruction and supervision 
  • Providing and maintaining safe systems of work
  • Consulting and communicating with workers about health and safety 

Having clear policies and procedures in place across the business can play an important role in addressing the above items and is a great way to clearly document how health and safety will be effectively managed.

Businesses are often asked to provide their company-level Policy and Procedure (P&P)  document (or manual) to clients or other Employers to demonstrate how they effectively manage health and safety. For example, a Principal Contractor (such as a building company) might ask a plumbing business to provide a copy of their P&P document before they begin working with them. Being able to showcase your commitment and standard of health and safety can help you to stand out against the competition.

How do I prepare a health and safety policy, procedure or manual?  

To create a comprehensive policy and procedures document, you’ll need expertise in health and safety, including a deep understanding of relevant legislation and best practice. Seeking assistance from a qualified health and safety advisor is the best option. 

Luckily, if you’re a HazardCo member, we’ve already created a combined company level policy and procedures document for you. It’s written by our team of health and safety experts, especially for Australian tradies and builders operating in the residential construction industry. If you’re already a member, you can download your company level policy and procedures document from the HazardCo Hub. 

Walk the talk

We recommend that you read through the P&P document (make sure it all makes sense – give us a bell if it doesn’t). 

The next step is to communicate and consult! Get your team together and have a toolbox meeting to discuss the health and safety policies and procedures, and talk to your team about what changes may be needed within your business. This will assist with making sure that everyone is managing health and safety well. 

It’s important workers receive adequate information, instruction and training to do their job safely and this extends to procedures so workers understand what procedures are in place and when and how to follow them. 

Remember it’s important to regularly monitor and review your health and safety  practices across the whole business including out on-site. This will help you to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for all and continually look for areas of improvement.