As an employer, you’re responsible for the health & safety of your staff, your customers and anyone else who could be affected by your business.
The law requires you to take steps to minimise risks and make workers aware of any potential hazards in the workplace, but to do that, you need to know where all the dangers are.
Using a health & safety management system enables you to review all areas of your business to look for risks and keep everyone safe.
In this guide, we cover the different types of health & safety management system, why it’s important to use one and the potential legal problems if you don’t.
What is a health & safety management system?
Your business already has systems in place for managing your HR and finances, so your health and safety should be no different.
A health & safety management system is the process you put in place to ensure safety in the workplace. It allows you to identify hazards, reduce potential risks and put steps in place in the event an accident occurs.
There are many frameworks for your management system, including:
- National and international standards, such as:
- Sector-specific frameworks, such as Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations 2002.
- In-house procedures.
You aren’t required to use a certain framework for your safety management system. However, you need to meet certain legal requirements.
Employer’s responsibilities regarding health & safety management
Legislation requires employers to assess all potential workplace risks and create effective safety measures to prevent accidents.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999 sets out employer’s obligations regarding the health and safety of workers, including:
- Providing a written health and safety policy if you employ five or more workers.
- Completing risk assessments to protect workers, customers, and anyone else who could be at risk. You should record findings in writing if you employ five or more people.
- Planning for preventive and protective measures following the risk assessments.
- Providing workers with access to health and safety advice.
- Ensuring workers know about workplace risks and how to minimise them.
- Providing training on how to manage risks and avoid accidents.
- Ensuring there’s the correct level of supervision in the workplace.
- Speaking with workers about the risks and getting their input on what they need to ensure safe working processes.
If you don’t adhere to these rules, you could face legal action and significant financial penalties.
A judge would make an assessment based on the degree of culpability, level of harm or potential harm caused and the turnover of your company to determine a fine.
Why is a health and safety management system important?
There are lots of reasons you need successful health and safety management.
As already mentioned, detailed safety and health management system documentation will ensure compliance with the law. But beyond that it will save you money, increase productivity and staff engagement.
An unsafe workplace will reduce productivity in two ways. Workers will take longer to complete tasks if they have to be extra cautious and more frequent injuries will require unscheduled time off.
By taking the time to make sure you have thorough health and safety processes, you can prevent injuries and make sure your staff feel confident in their roles. Doing so will improve staff happiness too, which will prevent people from looking for other jobs.
How to implement a health and safety management system
Whether you use the international standard or create bespoke procedures, HSE suggests your processes should follow a Plan, Do, Check, Act health and safety management system.
Plan, Do, Check, Act breaks the process of making a health & safety policy down into the four key elements of a health and safety management system.
Stage 1: Plan
This planning involves assessing risk control. Along with how to sustain positive attitudes towards health and safety. It should also include when you plan to review the policy.
Establish your policy: set a clear direction that you want your business to follow. Ensure to share it with all levels of your business so that everyone understands health and safety in your workplace. You should also include it in your employee handbook so it’s easy to look up and reference.
Planning your policy: work on your policy to make it flexible. A static health and safety system won’t be able to adapt to any changes in a business. Whatever changes to the policy you make, you need to keep your employees up to date. Even if it’s just sending an email around the office, you should keep everyone on the same page about your policies.
Stage 2: Do
Risk profiling: investigate and establish whether there are significant risks in the workplace. Check what could cause harm, how it could do this, and how to manage the risk.
Organising: this step is where you seriously communicate with your workforce. Ensure that everyone agrees with and understands your policies and systems.
Get feedback from your team and work on developing a healthy, positive attitude with your system. This includes ensuring that everyone knows how it affects them and how they can make reports.
- Implement your plan: once everyone understands your policies, establish them within your business with adequate training.
Make sure that appropriate tools and equipment for enforcing policies are readily available. For example, establishing eyewash stations and first aid kits.
Stage 3: Check
Measuring performance: check that they have fully implemented the policies and system. Also, check if any of the risks assessed are being properly addressed and controlled. If they aren’t, review your policies and ensure that you see to the risks.
Investigation process: encourage an open-policy with reporting accidents and incidents. Confirm with your team that those in charge of health and safety will inspect all reported accidents and incidents.
Stage 4: Act
Review your system: once the system has been in place for a set amount of time, arrange a time to closely examine how it’s functioning. Check if there are any reported accidents and incidents and see what you can learn from them.
Adapt: once you have reviewed your system, adapt it to your business. If you notice any frequent accidents or incidents, react with improvements within your policies.
This process is designed to be repeated regularly, so that you continuously improve your health & safety processes and remove any risks.
How often should your health and safety policy be reviewed?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that you should review your health & safety policy at least once a year.
This review should include following the four stages of the Plan, Do, Check, Act system again to review whether your current policy is working for the business.
The audit should report shortcomings in the existing policies and consider what action you can take to resolve any issues.
Get help with health & safety management today with BrightHR
It’s your responsibility as an employer to identify risks and prevent injuries in the workplace. But with different approaches to safety management and the many steps of the Plan, Do, Check, Act system, it can be difficult to get right.
That’s not even taking the countless legal requirements you have to consider into account.
This is where we come in. With BrightSafe you get complete health & safety support. You get online health & safety management software to help you complete risk assessments and educate your staff with exclusive CPD-accredited e-learning courses. Plus, access to over the phone health and safety advice 24/7.
Book in a free demo today to see just how easy it is to manage health & safety with our app. Give us a call on 0800 470 2432.