Health and Safety Commitment Policy

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Your Health and Safety Commitment

What is a Health and Safety Policy?

All employers are legally required to have a written statement of the goals of their health and safety program and the responsibilities of the employer, supervisors, and workers.

This statement is called a health and safety policy, but what does that mean?

It's not just the words...

A simple Internet search will reveal several examples of written health and safety policies. Many are designed for you to download and “fill in the blanks” with the applicable names of those in your organization.

Would that make it your policy?

Not quite. Policies are to organizations what intentions are to people; they are more than the words we use to express them. Intentions and policies are rooted in ideas and actions that are important to us. As individuals and as organizations, they guide everything we do.

...its about making a clear commitment

The effort put into creating a written health and safety policy is a starting point. It is an “I do” at the beginning of an ongoing commitment to act in ways that preserve and advance things that matter to your organization. For employers, that includes providing adequate resources, time and training. For workers it includes actively promoting their own safety and that of their colleagues and the public.

In other words, it's a two-way commitment. That's why employers and workers have to contribute in the creation of the written policy.

Developing Your Written Health and Safety Policy

A good health and safety policy reflects and expresses the intentions that are its foundation.

Employers should take the time to sit down and consult with management and staff to identify their shared values and goals and write down their intentions for achieving them.

Here are some steps to help get it done.

Step 1: Assemble a Shared Vision

Ask staff some questions about what matters to them about workplace health and safety. For example:

  • Apart from the legal reasons, why should health and safety matter in our store?
  • What is your expectation of us as an employer?
  • Is it acceptable that staff or visitors to our store leave with injuries? Why or why not?
  • What are you willing to do to promote your own safety, as well as that of colleagues and customers?
  • How should management think of health and safety? Why?
  • What should visitors to our store be able to expect?

Consider circulating questions such as these in advance and giving staff time to think about them so that they come up with considered responses.

When you meet together, have staff describe an ideal for a healthy and safe workplace from the perspective of customers, themselves, and the organization.

For example:

  • "Customers feel safe when they enter our store"
  • "Customers are free from risk of injury or trauma"
  • "Staff never have to worry about their safety"
  • "Staff leave the store each day as healthy as when they entered"
  • "Visitors to our store always feel safe"

Step 2: Craft a Shared Statement of Commitment

Using the results from Step 1 craft a statement, unique to your store, about why health and safety matters and what you will do to ensure it.

For example:

  • "We and the management are committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all our colleagues and visitors. We each promise to promote health and safety at all times."

Step 3: Explain How Everyone Will Keep Their Commitment

Setting out clear goals and assigning responsibilities are key to honouring the commitment to a safe workplace. For example:

As an employer, we will:

  • Strive to allocate adequate resources to meet the objectives of this policy.
  • Comply with all applicable health and safety requirements and strive to exceed industry standards.
  • Work steadfastly with our staff to eliminate or control hazards.
  • Incorporate health and safety into the business planning cycle and set goals and objectives to support continual improvement of our management systems.
  • Provide our staff with information, instruction and training to ensure they are able work safely and participate in the management of health and safety.
  • Always invite our staff to participate in decisions on matters that may affect their health and safety; and in reviewing our health and safety performance and our shared health and safety commitment.

As staff, we will:

  • Carry out our duties in a manner that preserves our own health and safety, along with that of our colleagues, customers and visitors.
  • Comply with all applicable health and safety requirements and strive to exceed industry standards.
  • Work with our employer in the interests of workplace health and safety.
  • Take seriously and apply any health and safety training provided.
  • Immediately report all matters that may affect workplace health and safety.
  • Undertake only those tasks we are authorized or properly trained to do.

Staff should have an opportunity to discuss and provide feedback to ensure the policy captures their intentions.

Step 4: Communicate the Commitment

The final step is to post the policy so that it is a visible reminder to everyone in the store. Your commitment is an active, living expression of the shared health and safety goals of both management and staff.

Make sure everyone understands the policy, keeps it in mind and puts it into action every day. Collectively review and discuss it at least once a year to keep it up to date.

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