Keeping your organisation’s workers safe and healthy at the workplace is vital. Their ability to do their jobs is directly tied to their well-being. When their well-being is compromised, so is the quality of their work, and consequently, so is the overall success of your organisation.
Health and safety policies and procedures ensure that your workplace minimises risks that could put your staff in harm’s way. Having such a structure also helps your organisation stay in compliance with the law. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 makes employers responsible for the health and safety of their employees.
What better way to create a health and safety framework for your organisation than with official guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) through HSG65.
What is HSG65?
HSG65 is one of the most popular guides for creating health and safety policies and procedures from the HSE. It follows the Plan, Do, Check, Act model, which seamlessly integrates the systems and behavioural aspects of management. Health and safety is treated as a cornerstone of how management in general is done, instead of merely grafting it onto an already existing management structure.
HSG65 has been revised and divided into four parts:
- Part 1 provides the core elements of health and safety management, as well as how they fit into your operations.
- Part 2 shows examples of what you need to look for within your organisation to align your strategy with what you actually need to do.
- Part 3 helps with delivering effective arrangements to address specific issues that you may have recognised in Part 2.
- Part 4 offers more resources for organisations to explore when developing their health and safety policies.
For this article, we will focus on Part 3, which outlines the ways in which your organisation can tackle problems in a systematic fashion through the Plan, Do, Check, Act approach.
HSG65 is mainly written for people in management positions looking for guidance on how to implement and oversee health and safety policies. However, workers and their representatives, as well as health and safety practitioners, consultants, and training providers may also use it for advice and reference.
The Plan, Do, Check, Act Approach
Creating health and safety policies and procedures that meet HSE management standards can be efficiently achieved with the four-step process of the Plan, Do, Check, Act approach. In this section, we will break down each step.
The planning stage is primarily about setting a direction for your organisation’s health and safety management. Generally, you want to be in compliance with the law, prevent health and safety problems, and be able to address new challenges and risks swiftly. A good starting point would be to consider your organisation’s current health and safety situation, and what state it needs to be in.
There are four essential questions that you need to answer when planning:
- What do you want to achieve?
- Who will be responsible for what?
- How will you achieve your aims?
- How will you measure success?
It is highly recommended you write down your answers as policy, as doing so will keep you on track, and it would be much easier to communicate to the rest of your organisation with a consistent document that everyone can refer to. Because this plan is ultimately for the benefit of the entire organisation, it’s important to consult your workforce when writing it.
Planning should cover legal requirements that may be specific to your organisation or industry, identify and control risks, account for potential changes, and maintain positive health and safety mindsets and behaviours.
In the Do step of the process, the focus is on delivering management systems and practices that control risks sensibly, responsibly, and proportionately. Doing so results in protecting the health and safety of your workers and everyone else that may be affected by your operations.
HSG65 outlines the successful delivery of health and safety policies in three ways:
The risks your organisation faces vary in their nature and severity. You need to identify them, and assess them based on how likely they are to happen, how much they can disrupt and cost your operation, and how effective your control measures will be at dealing with them. Having made a full assessment of your risks, you can make more informed decisions when determining priority levels for each one.
Each member of your organisation has a role to play in keeping everyone safe and healthy. People in leadership roles are responsible for setting controls, supervising, and providing advice. Workers need to be involved in the communication of health and safety policies and procedures, especially because they can give practical information based on their actual experience. Staff on all levels need to have competency in carrying out their roles.
HSG65 has four key steps for proper implementation of your plan.
- Decide on your required preventive and protective measures, then put them in place
- Provide the necessary gear for people to carry out their work, and maintain said resources
- Train staff for competency
- Ensure arrangements are followed through supervision
A robust health and safety management system facilitates routine and incident-led reports that show just how well the policies and procedures are implemented. This is why it is critical that you measure performance and investigate situations that cause harm.
Performance measurement requires monitoring that goes beyond identifying problems. It has to help you understand why problems occur and what you can do to solve them. HSG65 provides two types of monitoring you can apply:
- Active methods — Monitors design, development, installation, and operation of policies and procedures, such as routine premise inspections and health surveillance.
- Reactive methods — Monitors evidence of poor health and safety practice, such as accident investigation and monitoring of absences due to sickness.
Health and safety investigations accomplish multiple objectives:
- Understand risk control failures and show what improvements can be made
- Discover and correct policy and procedure breaches, such as workers taking risky shortcuts
- Protect your organisation legally
- Provide essential insurance claims information
- Show commitment to staff’s health and safety
Investigations should not be restricted to events where people get hurt. Investigating close calls can be just as useful at finding holes in your health and safety system.
The final step in the process is reviewing the performance of your health and safety systems and taking action on what you have learned through your review. This stage determines whether or not your policies and procedures have been embedded into your organisation, and if they are effective at managing risk and protecting people.
With the data you have gathered during the Check phase, you can learn valuable lessons as to what works and what doesn’t. You can also learn what may have changed in the health and safety environment within your organisation. Such information allows you to change policies and procedures that need revising and add new measures to address new risks.
For policies and procedures that succeed in mitigating risks and protecting your staff, you can use this as an opportunity to celebrate and promote your company’s health and safety performance, with your organisation and with parties that may be interested such as business partners and potential customers.
Health and Safety Policy Development is a Cycle
HSG65 emphasises that the Plan, Do, Check, Act approach is actually a cycle. Once you have reviewed your health and safety performance, the learnings you gain should then be used to once again make plans for new policies. It is a constant process of improvement, as new risks may arise and as your company grows and adapts to changes in your industry.
While HSG65 may not be compulsory for your organisation to comply with the law, it is a useful resource nevertheless for its practical methodology of health and safety policy development, and following it closely should help you meet legal obligations.
For professional assistance on creating an effective health and safety system based on HSG65, count on the seasoned health and safety specialists of The Health & Safety Dept. We have plenty of experience using the HSG 65 model.