Question: What is a Safety Statement/H&S Policy?
A Safety Statement/H&S Policy is your written and signed commitment to safeguarding the safety, health and welfare of all your Employees (including Directors/Owners of the Business) so far as is reasonably practicable.
The document is known as a Safety Statement in the Republic of Ireland and a H&S Policy in Northern Ireland.
All Employers are required to prepare one under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 or the equivalent Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 . Remember, the Self Employed is considered both an Employer and an Employee.
Question: How many pages does a Safety Statement/H&S Policy have to be?
There is no minimum or maximum number of pages required. All that is required is that all relevant information is provided in the document i.e.
- H&S Policy Statement – 1 page in length confirming your commitment to health and safety in your workplace
- Your Policies and Procedures regarding for example training, driving for work, welfare provisions, use of Drugs and alcohol
- Generic Risk Assessments which identify all the hazards associated with the place of work, the risks they posed, the level of risk and what control measures are implemented to eliminate or reduce the risks posed.
- Emergency and Accident Investigation Procedures.
Question: Is there a simpler document available than a Safety Statement/H&S Policy?
Codes of Practices have been prepared by the Health and Safety Authority for Construction Contractors with Three or less Employees and Farms with Three or Less Employees. These Codes of Practices have yet to be rolled out for other Industry Sectors.
However, the Health and Safety Authority earlier this year launched “BeSMART” which is part of the Taking Care of Business initiative developed for small businesses. According to the HSA, this tool will help small business owners and managers to identify the hazards in their workplace and will aid them in making their workplace safer.
Further information and the online risk assessment tool itself are available on the Health and Safety Authority website.
Question: Can I prepare a Safety Statement/H&S Policy myself?
There is no law that says that you must engage a Health and Safety Professional to prepare your Safety Statement.
No one will know your Business and its operations better than you do.
The important factor is “competency”; do you feel competent to prepare the document?
Competency is defined under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 in Section 2(2) as follows –
“(2) (a) For the purposes of the relevant statutory provisions, a person is deemed to be a competent person where, having regard to the task he or she is required to perform and taking account of the size or hazards (or both of them) of the undertaking or establishment in which he or she undertakes work, the person possesses sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work to be undertaken.
(b) Account shall be taken, as appropriate, for the purposes of subparagraph (a) of the framework of qualifications referred to in the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999.”
In simple terms; competency is “training, experience and knowledge”.
Ask yourself this question: Does my Safety Statement/H&S Policy fully and adequately cover all the possible worst case scenarios that could happen in my business and its operations?
Question: My Safety Statement/H&S Policy is over 5 years old, is it still valid?
It is advisable that the Safety Statement/H&S Policy be reviewed on an annual basis as a minimum. It must also be reviewed as follows:
- There has been a serious accident or dangerous occurrence in my Business
- There has been significant changes in the Health and Safety Legislation which is applicable to my Industry
- There have been major changes in the Management Organisation of my Business and also the number and type of Employees
- There has been a major change in our place of work and systems of work
A Safety Statement/H&S Policy is a live document and a useful tool for helping you to avoid accidents in your workplace. Remember Keep it under review, it shouldn’t be a document that sits on a shelf gathering dust, make it work for you and your Employees or colleagues!
For more information and guidance on preparing or reviewing your Safety Statement/H&S Policy, please contact us today.
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