We seem to have made health and safety policies so difficult and wordy, it probably links back to Primary School and feeling that we need to use ‘proper’ English. For many companies, the structure of the policy was linked to one of the ACC Employer Incentive scheme so there were a number of key statements that needed to be made. With the demise of the ACC WSMP scheme perhaps now is good chance to rethink what you want to say! If we get back to basics and think about what we want a policy to achieve:
How you feel about health and safety
Expectations of others
Commitment to meet relevant standards
Commitment to improve
When you join an organisation, despite what you may be told on the first day, it doesn’t take long to know what really matters to the organisation and what the feel of the company is like. If the organisation does care about its workers or really only cares about productivity. An effective and meaningful policy takes some thinking about from both owners/directors and management.
Some important things to think about are:
What should the headings be – what are the issues you want to state, they could include:
- Worker participation
- Caring for our people
- Working with stakeholders
- Ensuring competency
- Assessment and improvement
What external factors are important and should we be making a commitment to meet particular standards or legislation?
Who should have input into the policy, who should sign it?
How are we going to communicate it?
How and when will we review the policy?
The policy is also an opportunity to say something important if it’s what you feel:
We are committed to the idea that good H&S is good business
We want to lead our industry in a positive attitude to health and safety
We will demonstrate our belief that health is as important as safety
We want to support the communities we work in
We will do everything we can to ensure that no one’s health is affected by our business
We are committed to no negative environmental impact
We want every worker to understand and be able to state our aims for health and safety
However, don’t say it if you don’t mean it – think about what you will do to make the aspirations a reality.
Lastly, keep it simple. Short concise statements are far more effective than wordy vague policies. Use a variety of tools to make this work – good graphics, photos and colours to make an impact.