Policy on Safety is the document that includes the commitment of Senior Management to the well-being of workers and which, in turn, sets the aims and objectives that are expected to be achieved with a Health and Safety program in the workplace. Who is responsible the achieving the objectives and how aims and objectives are achieved? Although, taking into account the safety and health of workers implies a series of legal and regulatory obligations.
The occupational Policy on Safety is the general guideline for compliance with regulations related to the Occupational Health and Safety Management System. This policy must formally plan the direction to meet its requirements, said regulations provide a structure for action and the establishment of objectives.
The policies must be clear and aligned with the objectives of the organization. Policies seek to promote a safe and healthy workplace, lower accident rates, reduce hazards and risks, seek to take appropriate measures to take care of the health and improve the stability of the organization.
Likewise, the occupational health and Policy on Safety seek to prevent occupational risks by promoting the safety and health of workers through the identification, evaluation and control of the dangers and risks associated with a production process, in addition to promoting the development of activities and measures necessary to prevent risks arising from work.
What are the key points of policy on safety?
The occupational health and Policy on Safety is a document drawn up and signed by Senior Management that aims to guarantee the integrity and well-being of workers, contractors, visitors and other interested parties.
The HSE policy indicates what the organization wants to do, how it is committed to doing it and under what terms it can do it. Its scope is unlimited within the organization.
- Statement of Intent
- The organization section and
- The arrangement section
All employees, directors, managers, HSE professionals, contractors and other interested parties will find in it the necessary guidance to implement procedures, schedule activities, and report problems or possible risks, among other actions that, as a whole, make up the management Safety and Health at Work.
This is understood more clearly if we analyze the minimum content of the Policy on Safety are:
General statement of intent
Many organizations make the mistake of copying their policy from another organization where OSH management has been successful. Although all organizations must implement an Occupational Health and Safety program or a Management System with the same objective, the commitment and objectives are not necessarily the same.
One organization may go a bit further than regulatory, setting very high targets, while another may need to ensure compliance and cover broader targets later.
- That it is appropriate with the nature and degree of the risks of accidents and work-related illnesses in the company.
- Include a commitment to preventing work-related injuries and illnesses. The continuous improvement of the management and performance.
- A commitment to comply with all applicable legal requirements related to employee health and safety hazards.
- Provide a reference framework to establish and review all the aims and objectives.
- It must be documented, implemented and maintained.
- It must be communicated to all the people who work in the company, with the intention that they are aware of the obligations they have.
- Risk assessment for all relevant workplace activities.
- Effective communication and consultation with workers.
- Establish an active monitoring system.
Health and safety policy objectives
Given what the organization is committed to doing, the next thing in the order of the policy is to achieve the objectives. This means, what exactly do we want to do and in what time frames do we expect to do it?
The objectives of HSE will depend to a great extent on the context of the organization and its situation at the beginning of the management. In an organization that exhibits alarming figures for injuries and accidents, many of them with fatal results, it is clear that lowering these figures, even eliminating them, must be a primary objective. Some examples of recurring objectives in all types of organizations are the following:
Reduce to a specific point, or eliminate if this possibility exists, the number of accidents, incidents and cases of illnesses originating at work. The statement of intent parts of the policy set out the aims and objectives that have achieved by the organization are:
- Reduce work absenteeism.
- Increase the number of employees trained in risk prevention.
- Get immediate information on incidents, near misses and accidents.
- Reduction of civil claims.
- Implement a health and safety management system and certify it.
- Reduction in the notice from enforcement authorities
This commitment is recurring in any HSE standard. In addition to committing themselves, Senior Management, or the organization, must assume management leadership. But this commitment and this leadership must be precise.
The commitment to implement a health and safety management system belongs to Senior Management, as well as the responsibility for setting the objectives. But they will not be the ones in charge of putting them into practice on a day-to-day basis.
Responsibility comes from the top to down, and involves all employees, at all levels. Of course, the responsibility of the director of an area is greater than that of a general employee.
The management will involve specific responsibilities, which Senior Management will establish within the occupational health and Policy on Safety. This can be done using an organizational chart that establishes hierarchies and roles. The organization chart, of course, will be as large or small as the size and complexity of the organization.
On this point, it is important to recommend that the assignment of responsibilities be consistent with the chain of command and the positions that people hold in the organization. This section defines the roles and responsibilities of managers, supervisors, safety advisors, nurses, fire marshals and first aiders.
Therefore, it is necessary for the policy to clearly state that the organization is committed to:
- The organization’s commitment to compliance with state, national, local and international regulations and standards.
- The obligation is to consult workers and actively integrate them into management.
- Commitment to continuous improvement of the program or system.
- The resources that are assigned to management.
- Accident investigation and reporting
- Training and information
- Monitoring and audit
- Health surveillance
Responsibilities of senior manager
- Policy on Safety put in place
- Allocate resources
- Implement a health and safety management system
- Provide sufficient funds to achieve objectives
- Put in place the right organizational structure with roles and responsibilities
- Review the health and safety performance
So far, this is a document of intent. We commit, we assign responsibilities, and we set goals, but we still don’t know how much it cost and what we need to will invest to achieve the goals.
Companies are increasingly interested in workers adopting said Policy on Safety at work, this helps to avoid more common accidents, it is also designed by senior management, who is the one who knows the different processes of the company and must be committed to the welfare of workers.
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So, when we talk about occupational health and the Policy on Safety, we include all personnel to maintain the social, mental and physical well-being of all employees. To fulfil this purpose, the entire organization must contribute and participate in the implementation of policy, taking into account the preventive actions that prevent accidents.
Occupational health and safety is a preventive technique that bases its activity on the control of risk factors that can cause accidents. The arrangement section includes:
- Carry out a risk assessment
- Provide information, instruction and training related to safety
- Reporting and investigation of the incident
- Consultation with workers
- Establish permit to work system, emergency procedure, fire prevention plan and monitoring system
- Build safe work spaces for workers, contractors, suppliers, etc.
- Provide clean and accessible toilet facilities.
- Train workers so that they can perform their tasks safely, but also on issues related to risk prevention and OHS, in general.
- Implement programs and protocols for maintaining the facilities and the machinery and equipment used.
- Verify compliance with Occupational Health and Safety standards.
- Guarantee the training and qualification of new employees.
- Ensure the disposal and storage of hazardous substances, such as chemicals or radioactive elements.
- Design, implement and put into practice emergency plans.
- Machinery safety
- Electrical safety
- Maintenance procedure
- Use of PPE
- Fire drill procedures
- Control of hazards such as noise, vibration, radiation, manual handling etc.
Policy on Safety must be regularly reviewed by employers by setting a benchmark of good practice such as the accident rate per employee. There are several reasons for reviewing of Policy on Safety are:
- Require review of the policy when:
- Technological change
- Organizational change
- Legal change
- After the suggestion of audit, investigation or risk assessment
- Due to the enforcement action or consultation with the workforce
- After a certain amount of time
- After a new work method
- After the changing of work arrangement
- Information received from manufacturers.
- Advice from the insurance company