The Importance of a Workplace Health and Safety Policy
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), business owners are required to give their workers, including employees and contractors, the highest level of protection from workplace health and safety risks.
The Act also covers “others,” including PCBUs or person(s) conducting a business or undertaking. Moreover, HSWA includes risks not just to physical but also mental health.
Full HSWA compliance has various facets. For one, you need to ensure that your people have ample health and safety training. This way, they will know how to protect themselves, their colleagues, and their worksite from daily hazards.
You should also develop and keep health and safety documents in the workplace, particularly policies and procedures. Policies are statements that set the tone of your organisation’s approach to health and safety. Essentially, they act as a guide by stating what needs to be done, how to do it, and who will do it.
Meanwhile, procedures indicate the steps one has to follow in specific situations. For example, you may want to write separate evacuation procedures in case of a fire or an earthquake. Procedures can help prevent panic and ensure that things remain organised even during a crisis.
Why Safety Training and Policy-Making Matter
Admittedly, providing health and safety training and crafting policies will take a lot of time and resources. However, it’s a worthwhile endeavour that that will have far-reaching positive effects on your company. These include the following:
- Employee Retention. When your employees feel that you care about their wellbeing, they feel happier and more satisfied. These feelings strongly influence an employee’s loyalty to the company, resulting in a higher retention rate. This then contributes to various aspects of business, including cost savings in relation to personnel acquisition and training.
- Positive Company Culture. One of the biggest factors that affect a candidate’s choice of a workplace is company culture. Getting properly compensated for their hard work is still important, of course, but it’s not all that matters. People want to work in an organisation where they feel they belong and are supported. With a health and safety policy in place, it’s easier to create a safe and welcoming environment, which is one of the key components of a positive company culture.
- Positive Reputation. If your company promotes health and safety, work-life balance, and similar values, news of it will inevitably reach others. Remember that people have a tendency to share when they feel strongly about things. When they feel happy, content, and proud of the company they’re working for, word will surely get around. This can then influence the public’s perception of your business, creating more opportunities for growth and establishing your credibility.
- Cost Savings. As earlier mentioned, a safe workplace is somewhere that employees would likely stay at long-term. The longer your people stay, the more you reduce costs related to recruitment. In addition, it’s much more cost-efficient to work on retention (which can be directly affected by workplace health and safety) rather than recruitment.
An unsafe, unhealthy workplace also means that there’s a higher risk of disease and injury. With a focus on health and safety, you can drastically minimise the risk of such events from happening. In turn, it helps save your company from compensation costs and similar expenses.
- Increased Productivity. When your employees know that they can work safely, it gives them peace of mind. This boosts their morale and also allows them to focus on their task. Healthy employees also don’t get sick as often, reducing the number of unplanned absences at work. The ultimate results of all these are efficiency and increased productivity.
- Less Legal Troubles. The thing with accidents is that they can happen anytime, anywhere. Even if you have workers’ compensation insurance, you’ll still be facing legal troubles if you’re found to have been negligent in providing a safe and healthy workplace. A situation like this can severely deplete a company’s resources, not to mention affect their reputation.
How to Create a Health and Safety Policy
Now that you have a clearer picture of the importance of workplace health and safety policies, it’s time to create your own. Here are three tips to get you started:
- Identify Workplace Hazards. One of the most important foundations of a sound health and safety policy is to know the hazards in your workplace. These can be something as “innocent” as the layout of your office furniture, to more obvious dangers such as chemicals and heavy machinery.
- Get Everyone On-Board. Everyone, from the top management down to the rank-and-file employees, should be on the same page. Include everyone right from the beginning to instill a sense of responsibility. It’s also easier to encourage people to participate and follow rules when they’re directly involved in making them.
- Determine Your Metrics. You won’t know if your policies are working if you don’t have a way to measure the results. Set your goals and determine your metrics as soon as you start drafting your documents. Moreover, don’t be afraid to make adjustments if it turns out that things aren’t working as well as you initially thought.
In the end, providing a healthy and safe workplace for your employees is as much a moral obligation as a legal one. Your people are a huge part of your company’s success. It’s only right to give them a sense of security while they’re doing their jobs.