Do Health and Safety Procedures need to be formally documented to be real?
You’ll be relieved to hear that for many businesses, particularly smaller ones, the short answer is ‘no’.
Adhering to the health and safety legislation does not actually require procedures to be documented. Rather, it simply requires that these procedures are established and implemented in the workplace.
- It requires your business to have a considered and consistent way of undertaking its operations.
- It requires your business to communicate this established or official way of undertaking its operations to the relevant parties, whether this be: workers, contractors or visitors.
- It requires your business to ensure that the identified relevant parties understand this established or official way of undertaking the operations.
It does not require formal documentation of this process. It certainly doesn’t require a folder of procedures doing nothing but collecting dust. But it does require some activity and doing on your part.
It is more important that your workplace has established a safe system of work, than have a safe system of work written down on a piece of paper that is unrealistic or not followed.
Part of this doing that is actually important is keeping accurate records. These are not to be confused with health and safety procedure documentation, that outline the processes you undertake. These records are evidence of the activities you have performed as part of your already established and implemented health and safety procedure. Read a detailed account of the typical workplace health and safety documentation and associated records here.
So, the good news is that if you have regular and working communication across all levels of your business you likely already have some health and safety procedures in place without you paying them much thought. You may not have an official document to prove it, but you could already be undertaking some of the fundamentals needed for a strong health and safety compliant workplace. Read more advice here about how to ensure you have a solid approach to health and safety in your workplace.
Having said all of this, there are some major benefits to having your health and safety procedure documented, even if you are a small business. Read more about what documenting your procedures can do for your business here. Documented procedures can;
- be an effective way to bring all your employees, managers and works alike, onto the same page when it comes to implementing health and safety procedures.
- remove confusion and ambiguity about Health and Safety.
- help ensure that important health and safety tasks are still undertaken even if roles change or staff come and go.
- open up opportunity for working with other businesses that require evidence of your documented health and safety procedure before engaging with you.
Whilst not a legislative requirement, documenting health and safety will encourage explicit consideration of how the business implements health and safety into their operations, the way that they work and with whom they work.
If you are unsure if your workplace has any health and safety procedures – documented or not – please contact us. We would love the opportunity to review how you are implementing health and safety across your business, and to help guide you towards getting it working well both for compliance with the legislative requirements and for your business.