By Joanna Weekes
It’s important, every now and then, to stop and look at the systems you have in place for managing health and safety in your workplace, and consider how you might improve them to create and safer, happier and more productive environment for your workers to come to every day.
Workplace health and safety policies and procedures are a huge part of this.
Policies are the documented principles, objectives, obligations and commitments that guide workplace health and safety decision-making within your business. They help you to manage legal risk and allow you to outline the benefits and opportunities provided by your company to its workers.
Not just those relating to workplace health and safety, but all policies underpin your health and safety management system by documenting the following things:
- what is expected of your workers, e.g. behaviour and performance standards;
- rules and guidelines for decision-making in routine situations;
- a consistent and clear response across the company in dealing with situations;
- your good faith that workers will be treated fairly and equally;
- an accepted method of dealing with complaints and misunderstandings to help avoid claims of bias and favouritism;
- a clear framework for the delegation of decision-making;
- a means of communicating information to new workers.
Workplace health and safety procedures are the documented processes that guide working practices in your business – these include specific procedures that set out step-by-step instructions for carrying out a job or task.
7 advantages of effective workplace health and safety policies and procedures
Health and safety policies and procedures are essential for your workplace because they:
- Demonstrate that your business is addressing its health and safety obligations.
- Show that your business is committed to working within a set of health and safety principles.
- Clarify functions and responsibilities in your business.
- Ensure that safe systems of work are recorded, communicated to workers and implemented in a consistent way throughout your business.
- Guide the future actions of workers in a formal way.
- Help your business to manage staff more effectively by defining acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the workplace.
- Save time by allowing health and safety matters to be handled quickly through an existing procedure, rather than staff dealing with problems as they occur or responding differently each time the same issues arise.
Each of these advantages works towards improving your health and safety systems to create a culture where health and safety is a commitment made by your management and board. If you can do this, you will show your workers that their welfare is your priority – leading to a safety culture and more productive workers.
Work with your workers to improve workplace health and safety and they will start working for you.