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How to make a Health and safety policy

Use this health and safety policy to set out how your business complies with workplace health and safety obligations. Creating a health and safety policy can help you to meet your obligations related to employee training, emergency procedures, display screen equipment (DSE) use, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and more.    

Recently reviewed by Lauren Delin, Solicitor.

This health and safety policy was last reviewed on 6 May 2022.

Use this health and safety policy template:

  • to comply with the legal requirement to have a written policy on health and safety if you have 5 or more employees 

  • to help meet your legal duty of care for workers' and visitors’ (eg customers’) health and safety

  • to ensure that employees are clear about health and safety obligations and rules

  • if you still have employees returning to the physical workplace after working remotely due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • if you have employees or customers who are particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • for staff based in England, Wales or Scotland

This policy sets out the employers’ and employees’ responsibilities in different situations, including those related to:

  • collective responsibility for health and safety matters

  • risk assessments

  • display screen equipment (DSE) and manual handling related health and safety matters

  • equipment use and training

  • first aid and accidents 

  • fire and emergency procedures

  • record-keeping procedures

  • what happens if a health and safety policy isn’t followed

  • national health alerts (including Coronavirus (COVID-19))

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) mitigation measures, including social distancing, mental health in the workplace, and use of PPE

  • maintaining mental health at work

A health and safety policy sets out how an employer makes sure that their workplace is safe to work in. Making a workplace safe involves providing:

  • a safe place of work

  • safe access to work

  • safe systems of work (eg safe processes for staff to follow)

  • safe equipment

  • safe and competent fellow workers

  • protection from risks of injury 

Employers can create a health and safety policy to outline individual duties and responsibilities relating to health and safety at work. The policy should also explain how managers, employees and employers should fulfil those duties. 

The policy can also help to protect employees. It can also show the employer’s commitment to health and safety in the workplace. For more information on employers’ and employees’ obligations, read Health and safety.

All businesses must have a health and safety policy. If you employ more than 5 employees, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires you to have a written policy in place. If you have less than 5 employees, you must still have a policy, but it doesn’t have to be written down.

Having a health and safety policy helps inform staff of what to do in an emergency. The policy can also communicate steps to take to reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses. Creating a comprehensive and clear health and safety policy also demonstrates that an employer takes its health and safety responsibilities seriously.

Employers have a duty to consult with their employees (or an employee representative) on health and safety matters. This helps them to establish the most effective way of managing risks and providing health and safety training. Workers have a duty to take care of their own and others’ health and safety. Therefore, workers must cooperate with employers and co-workers to help everyone meet their legal requirements.

Employers can appoint a committee, individual, or board as their health and safety representative. Whoever they appoint will hold overall responsibility for health and safety. You can also specify the person who is responsible for day-to-day health and safety considerations. This person is often known as a Principal Health and Safety Officer.

For more information, read Health and safety and the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) guidance.

Employer and employee health and safety responsibilities that can be part of your policy include:

Employers’ responsibilities:

  • providing a healthy and safe workplace

  • taking steps to reduce or eliminate risks

  • providing suitable and well-maintained equipment and training on its use

  • providing relevant staff training on matters including DSE use, manual handling, and control of substances that are hazardous to health (COSHH)

  • assigning suitable personnel to be responsible for health and safety matters, such as equipment checks and managing first aid situations

Employees’ responsibilities:

  • taking care of their own and others' health and safety at work

  • following safety instructions

  • using equipment correctly

  • reporting problems quickly and correctly 

  • working with their employer on health and safety matters, for example by following emergency procedures

For more information, read Health and safety.

You must identify and control the risks in your workplace. To conduct a risk assessment you must think about what might cause harm to people. You should then decide whether you are taking reasonable steps to prevent harm. Risk assessments should consider your employees’ unique individual circumstances and job requirements. 

If you decide that further steps should be taken to minimise the risk of harm, ensure that these steps are implemented. Risk assessments should be made available for all of your employees to view.

For more information, read Risk assessments at work.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 create a specific set of responsibilities for employers related to DSE use. These include obligations to:

  • carry out workstation assessments to identify risks related to DSE

  • make action plans for reducing DSE related risks

  • provide free eye tests and (when necessary) glasses for DSE users

  • provide information and training on DSE related health and safety matters

  • make sure employees know about the business’ health and safety policies and procedures related to DSE

For more information on employers’ and employees’ DSE related obligations, read Health and safety when working with display screen equipment (DSE).

This policy covers working safely during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It can help you ensure that any prevention and mitigation measures relevant to your workplace remain in place. 

This template lets you choose which Coronavirus (COVID-19) mitigation and prevention measures are currently relevant to your workplace. Therefore, only relevant measures will be included in your policy.

For more information, read Managing health and safety for employees working from home during Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Employee health and safety in the workplace during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

If an employee fails to comply with their employer’s health and safety policy, they may be subject to consequences. Potential consequences include disciplinary action in accordance with any disciplinary procedures that the employer has in place.

If an employer fails to comply with health and safety requirements, there can be serious consequences for organisations and individuals. Sanctions include fines, disqualification and imprisonment.

Ask a lawyer for advice:

  • for staff based outside England, Wales and Scotland

  • on how to effectively implement the procedures set out in your health and safety policy

  • on creating a bespoke health and safety policy with more detailed provisions relevant to your specific industry, workplace, or staff

Other names for Health and safety policy

Health and safety statement, Health and safety at work policy, Workplace health and safety policy, Workplace health and safety statement, Health and safety duty statement.