This month we are going to start at the top and look at the health and safety policy statement that you should have in place. A good policy is a great starting point to help you to improve the standard of health and safety at your company and it should also help to contribute to your business performance as the cornerstone of your health and safety management system.
If you fill in tenders for work this will be something that you’ve undoubtedly been asked for and have available. If you don’t already have one, the following will hopefully guide you along the right lines.
Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires employers of five or more people to have a written health and safety policy statement. The statement should be specific to your company and set out your general policy for protecting the health and safety of your employees at work and your organisation/arrangements for putting the policy into practice.
The company policy must be brought to the notice of all employees and be revised whenever appropriate; any revisions should also be brought to employees’ attention. Although a health and safety policy legally only concerns employees’ safety, it is good practice to include considerations on the safety of other persons e.g. contractors, members of the public, or anyone who may be affected by the work activities.
The following areas are suggested by the HSE to help ensure that you cover all of the items needed in your policy statement.
The first part is the statement of general policy, which should be signed and dated. There should also be an outline of responsibilities to identify who is responsible overall, day-to-day and for specific areas of the company e.g. the yard foreman, transport manager etc.
The next part is health and safety risks, which is an area that we have covered extensively in these articles. You should show what arrangements are in place for identifying the risks, the action needed to remove/ control risks, who is responsible for ensuring that this is undertaken and a timeframe for when things will be reviewed e.g. annually.
You must also state how you consult with your employees, in essence who represents the employees and who provides the consultation with them on health and safety matters.
Plant and equipment forms an important part of waste management operations and you should identify who is responsible for identifying when maintenance is needed, who draws up maintenance procedures, who to report problems to, who purchases new equipment and ensures that it is fit for purpose etc.
The use of substances and their safe handling also needs to be included such as who identifies hazardous substances, who is responsible for undertaking and reviewing COSHH assessments and informing employees of the risks and control measures.
Information, instruction, supervision and competency are important within the waste industry to ensure that staff are aware of the risks to them, their responsibility to the company and the company’s duty to them to provide a safe working environment, safe methods of work, safe equipment and adequate planning of work. This aspect should include matters such as where the Health and Safety Law Poster is displayed, who distributes information to staff and who supervises and trains new recruits and young workers. Training should also be identified and include who provides induction training, job specific training and who keeps the training records.
Next month we will finish off the elements in the policy statement and look at the requirements of an 18001 policy.
Tony Crotty BSc (Hons), MSc, MCIWM, COTC level 4 Managing Treatment Hazardous Waste is a Director Green Triangle Management Systems ltd. He specialises in Environmental, Health & Safety and Quality Management Systems for businesses and public sector organisations – www.greentrianglems.co.uk – You can contact Tony on 0845 094 3938.