policy development


Definition - What does policy development mean?

In occupational health and safety contexts, policy development can refer to one of two activities. First, it may refer to the development of regulatory policies by occupational health and safety authorities; and second, it may refer to the development of workplace policies by employers. These two meanings are interrelated in-practice, as the development of workplace policies is a regulatory requirement in many jurisdictions. In both cases, the policy development process is usually characterized by a need to consult stakeholders on the terms of the policy and how it will affect the workplace.

Safeopedia explains policy development

Policy development is an iterative process designed to produce continuous improvements in workplace safety and to provide a clear indication of the policymaker’s commitment to safety. A workplace’s safety policy forms the foundation of its larger health and safety program.

Government, or regulatory policy development, is a fundamentally data-driven process in which the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of existing policies are evaluated, and those which are deemed lacking are updated as needed. Once this occurs, the regulatory body responsible for policy development (e.g., OSHA), will propose the rule change in order to receive feedback from stakeholders and the public. Depending on the nature of the feedback, the policy may be implemented as planned, implemented with amendments, or—if there is significant dissatisfaction with the proposed new policy—the policy may be amended and then re-submitted for a new round of consultations.

Workplace health and safety policies are a fundamental part of workplace health and safety programs, which are required in many jurisdictions and recommended by OSHA. Like government policies, they are to be updated/re-developed on an ongoing basis, both as-needed and to further improve workplace safety. Workplace policies must be kept up-to-date in order to reflect the hazards, responsibilities, and performance objectives so that the workplace’s health and safety program accurately addresses workers’ needs.

Unlike regulatory policy, which has legal weight, workplace policies are developed as guidance statements and are designed to demonstrate the employer’s commitment to safety. As such, workplace policies are written in general terms that outline goals, methods, and responsibilities, but which do not describe the precise activities that must be taken to comply with the policy.

The proper development of workplace safety policies is described by numerous internally recognized consensus standards, such as CAN/CSA-Z1000-14 - Occupational health and safety management.

This definition was written in the context of Safety Standards
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