Employers - health and safety policies

An employer of five or more people must have a written health and safety policy. This contains the company's policy on health and safety at work and the organisation and arrangements for putting that policy into practice.

Writing a health and safety policy statement is more than just a legal requirement - it is the employer's commitment to planning and managing health and safety. It is the key to achieving acceptable standards, reducing accidents and causes of work-related ill health, and it shows employees that their health and safety is an important aspect of the business.

Who should do what?

  • With very few exceptions, the responsibility for health and safety rests on the employer.
  • However, many day-to-day tasks may be delegated to others, including employees.
  • The statement should show clearly how these tasks are allocated, but remember, the employer will still have the ultimate responsibility.
  • Employers should consult the employees (through safety representatives, where in place) about the policy statement.
  • Everyone should be able to see from the policy statement exactly who is responsible for different things, such as advice, reporting of an accident and first aid.

Systems and procedures

  • The policy statement should describe the employer's arrangements, for example, the systems and procedures in place for ensuring employees' health and safety.
  • Employers may wish to refer to other documents, for example works' rules, safety checklists, training programmes, emergency instructions and the like.
  • Employees may not need to see all the other documents, but they must see the policy statement itself.

How often should the policy statement be revised?

  • The policy should be reviewed and possibly revised in the light of experience, or because of operational or organisational changes.
  • Where there are no changes, it is recommended that the review process occurs annually.

Is there anything else?

  • Yes, employers have other legal duties under other legislation.
  • In particular, under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers have to assess the risks arising from employees' work activities and record the significant findings, a process called risk assessment.
  • Depending on the type of work, there may be other specific legislation that will also apply.

REMEMBER: What is written in the policy must be put into practice. The true test of a health and safety policy is the actual conditions in the workplace, not how well the statement is written.

Further advice on writing a health and safety policy for your business is available on the Health and Safety Executive website.

Environmental Health contact information

Postal address:, Civic, 1 Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes MK9 3EJ