Got More Than 5 Employees? Why You Need a Safety Management System
How do you manage health and safety in your workplace? If you were asked by the enforcing authority (HSE), the council or your insurer, could you prove what measures you have in place?
If you have five or more employees, you are required by law to have a documented safety management system in place, and it’s good practice to have one even if your employee numbers are fewer than five.
Your safety management system should be generally sectioned into the following categories:
- Monitoring and review
- Safety records
So, what should be in each of these sections?
Policy :- Your health and safety policy should set out your general approach to health and safety. It explains how you, as an employer, will manage health and safety in your business. It should clearly say who does what, when and how. Those with health and safety responsibility are normally identified on a chart with the most senior person at the top ranging down to supervision level. It is good practice to show each person’s responsibilities in a table format. This information would also be reflected in the company employee health and safety handbook along with the employees expected responsibilities.
Arrangements :- Your arrangements should set out how you will manage specific topic areas for the business. These topic areas could related to fire, first aid, risk assessment, accident and emergencies, use of equipment, training, communication or PPE to name a few, and would set out what your company has in place to fulfil your legal obligations for each.
Monitoring & Review :- Now you have identified who has responsibility for health and safety within the workplace, and you have arrangements in place to identify what you will be doing to mitigate the risk of harm to your employees and others, it is essential your systems and checks are monitored and reviewed on a regular basis to identify any shortfalls in your control measures, which should be documented.
Safety Records :- Your safety records should be a documented process of providing evidence of what has been undertaken both in-house and by third party contractors. The most important section of your safety records would be for ‘Risk Assessment’, and should identify the elements that require action i.e. the provision of training, providing PPE, equipment checks, etc.
Certain control measures identified within the risk assessment should be documented as evidence that they have been checked and are suitable with no issues outstanding.
Examples of common documented checks include fire alarm and emergency light testing, machine guards in place, training, equipment servicing and inspection, first aid equipment, slips-trips and falls, asbestos, use of chemicals and issuing PPE.
With a safety management system in place and documented evidence, the process of being audited is much more straight forward and less stressful, providing auditors with a systematic approach to managing health and safety, which is also cost effective.
Author: Paul Jackson, Health & Safety Advisor at Howarths