Do I need a Health and Safety policy?

Though required by law if you employ more than 5 people, a written health and safety policy can sometimes seem like an unnecessary hassle for a small business.  Surely you can trust your colleagues to behave safely at work?  But taking the time to create a well thought out document isn’t just important to avoid breaking the law;  It shows a real commitment to your employees and responsibilities.

A health and safety policy is a record of how you plan to deal with any health and safety issues.  If you employ more than five people it will need to be written down.  This is so all of your staff know what you’re doing for them and what they must do as employees to keep the workplace safe.  While they are working for you, you have a legal responsibility to maintain their safety.  Officially you must ensure that safe systems of work are set and followed, risks to health are eliminated or controlled and that your workers have the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary for their health and safety.

Health and safety policies are usually made up of three sections.

1. The first section should include your targets.  A list of issues you are going to tackle.
2. Secondly, you outline whose responsibility these targets are.
3. Thirdly, the action or arrangements section should demonstrate how you can accomplish them.

You should also include the locations of your health and safety poster and any first aid equipment.  Lastly, make sure you’ve signed and dated the policy and set a date for review.

Obviously safe practice will mean different things in different workplaces, so your policy will be unique to your company.  Most new businesses no longer need to register with the Health and Safety Executive or local authority.  Those that may need to register are those dealing with hazardous substances, like asbestos, or in hazardous industries, like construction.  A great resource offering advice, templates and guides is the HSE’s official site  Alternatively, our compliance team can assist you with any matters of health and safety from policy writing to conducting your audits. Just call on 0203 405 1850 or email

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