Health And Safety Policy

By Tabitha Mishra
Last updated: July 31, 2017

What Does Health And Safety Policy Mean?

A health and safety policy is a formal document that influences decision-making and guides actions related to workplace health and safety within an organization.

Government regulations require workplaces to develop and implement health and safety policies. In some jurisdictions, public intermediary corporations may also have a hand in developing these policies.

The level of workplace policymaking that is legally required can vary widely by jurisdiction. In the United States, these requirements differ significantly across individual states.

Safeopedia Explains Health And Safety Policy

An organization’s health and safety policy represents a commitment to protecting the health and safety of their workers and visitors to their premises. It outlines a company’s approach to managing risks and specifies the responsibilities of employees, managers, and management staff.

Health and safety policies can be promulgated at the federal, state, and local levels through public oversight corporations.

Regulations Governing Health and Safety Policies

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other national health and safety regulators mandate that employers enact an array of safety policies. As regulations are frequently industry-specific, the extent of the employer’s policymaking obligations will depend on the industry they operate in. Construction projects, maritime operations, and oil and gas companies will have stricter standards than businesses that are deemed part of general industry.

Workplaces also create safety policies to satisfy the OSHA-mandated general duty to provide a safe workplace, rather than practice ad-hoc enforcement of safety measures.

Health and Safety Regulations in Canada

Every jurisdiction in Canada requires employers to have an active program of health and safety policies for their workplace. The policy must also be made available to all workers and communicated to them in language they understand (typically, French and English).

In the province of Ontario, workplaces must produce both a statement of policy and an explicit program of policy implementation measures. These workplace policies must be updated annually and are expected to reflect both regulatory obligations and the input of employees.

Contents of a Health and Safety Policy

A health and safety policy covers three areas:

  • Statement of intent – A brief statement of the organization’s policy on health and safety, as well as its aims and objectives. It is signed and reviewed regularly by the employer or someone from the company’s management team.
  • Responsible persons – A list of the names, positions, and roles of those responsible for implementing and enacting the health and safety policies.
  • Arrangements – A detailed overview of the arrangements put in place to manage risks, as well as a plan for how the organization will meet the aims and objectives set out in the statement of intent. This is the largest portion of the policy and covers many aspects of risk management, including risk assessments, safety procedures, safety training, consultations, and emergency evacuation plans.

The health and safety policy must be completed by a competent person responsible for health and safety at the workplace, whether a dedicated safety professional, a member of the safety committee, or a staff member charged with workplace safety alongside their other job duties.

The health and safety policy must be reviewed at least once a year, or more often if frequent changes take place in the organization’s operations or the equipment they use. Once reviewed, the policy’s effectiveness must be assessed and updated where relevant changes or improvements are needed.


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