Here at OSHbox, we frequently receive H&S questions from business owners and a question that comes up time and time again, especially from Employers is: "Why is a health and safety policy so important?"
It's a question often asked with a hint of scepticism, as if policies are just another piece of paperwork instead of crucial ‘behind the scenes’ tool for a safe workplace.
So, what is the purpose of a good Health and Safety Policy?
The primary purpose of a good health and safety policy is to provide the outline for a safe and healthy working environment for everyone. A good policy can effectively guide behaviours and actions within the workplace, creating a strong safety culture where every individual contributes to the wellbeing of themselves and others.
Policies define the roles and responsibilities of everyone, from executives to part-time staff, establishing clear expectations for safety procedures and protocols. Policies should set the tone and direction, outlining the commitments, objectives, and key health and safety arrangements in place.
Undoubtedly, one of the most important aspects of a comprehensive health and safety policy is its role in keeping people safe. Employees are a company's most valuable asset, and their wellbeing directly influences the success of the business.
By outlining safe work practices and risk management strategies, health and safety policies provide a clear blueprint for preventing workplace incidents. It empowers employees with the knowledge and protocols they need to safeguard their own health and safety, and that of their colleagues.
Employee Wellbeing and Productivity
When employees feel that their health and safety is prioritised, they're more likely to be engaged, productive, and committed to their work. They can focus on their tasks, fostering a more positive and efficient work environment. A safe workplace also significantly reduces absenteeism and turnover rates, saving your business from the substantial costs of hiring and training new staff.
Moreover, a strong health and safety policy fosters a culture where safety becomes a shared responsibility. It encourages employees to take an active role in identifying potential hazards and contributing to the overall safety of the workplace.
Regulatory Compliance and Legal Protection
In NZ, we have comprehensive health and safety laws, guided by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Non-compliance can lead to hefty fines, reputational damage, and even imprisonment for serious breaches. An effective health and safety policy helps ensure your business stays on the right side of the law.
While developing robust health and safety policies might require an initial investment, it can save your business money in the long run. Workplace incidents can lead to substantial direct and indirect costs, including workers’ compensation claims, medical expenses, and downtime. These costs are preventable with effective health and safety procedures.
In the age of social media and online reviews, a company's reputation is more important than ever. A strong health and safety record can enhance your business's public image and brand value. Customers, suppliers, and potential investors often prefer to do business with companies that demonstrate a genuine commitment to their employees' wellbeing. In fact – a signed and dated Policy is usually the first piece of evidence required for any prequalification.
Keeping On Track
Remember - Your policy is a living document, not a set-and-forget obligation. It requires an annual review to ensure it stays relevant and effective. This review should consider any changes in your operations, legislative updates, lessons learned from previous incidents, and feedback from your staff. In essence, the policy is an evolving roadmap, guiding your business on its journey towards a safer, healthier, and more productive environment.
If you would like a hand reviewing, updating, or creating health and safety policies for your business – we can help, just flick us a message or give us a call.
Stay safe out there!