Review your occupational health and safety (OHS) policy
How to review your OHS policies and procedures to make sure they are keeping your workers safe.
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How this helps your business
Occupational health and safety policies and procedures are your workplace's plan for keeping your employees safe and healthy. Keeping them up to date and working as they should is an important step in protecting your employees.
Up-to-date occupational health and safety policy and procedures can benefit any organisation, no matter how small or large, by:
creating safer work environments
reducing injuries, including mental injuries
reducing injury-related costs
improving business opportunities
demonstrating that your organisation is meeting legal requirements
giving your organisation a good reputation
Research shows that there are clear links between good occupational health and safety management systems and long-term business efficiency.
Talk with your staff
A safe workplace is more easily achieved when employers and employees talk to each other about problems that might come up and work together to find solutions. Asking for feedback from your staff is the first step in reviewing your existing policies and procedures.
There are many ways you can talk with your employees about occupational health and safety, including:
through your health and safety representatives
through your health and safety committees
having OHS as an agenda item at your regular meetings. These may be 'toolbox talks', production meetings, staff meetings or any way your organisation communicates with each other.
one-on-one discussions with your managers and employees
when you casually walk around your workplace with your staff
Review your policy
Occupational health and safety policies need to be reviewed regularly to make sure they are still working well and cover the situations that come up in your workplace.
Make a plan or a timetable for reviewing each OHS policy and procedure in your workplace. Important times to review are when there are:
any changes at your workplace
new plant or administrative processes
new knowledge about hazards
new legislation or regulations
You need to make sure your OHS policies and procedures are:
working to keep employees safe
still relevant to the types of work you do
still relevant to your workplace
successfully identifying safety issues and managing risks
Use the checklist to see you have covered the basics and compare your OHS policy to the sample OHS policy.
Checklist for your OHS policy:
A commitment from senior management to provide a safe working environment
What that commitment will mean for different parts of the business
A description of what roles you'll need to maintain workplace health and safety (for example, fire warden, first aid, health and sfety representative)
How each level of management will be responsible for health and safety policies and procedures
A promise to involve employees in deciding how the policy will be put into practice
What training employees need to be work safely
How health and safety policies and procedures will be shared with staff
The name of the person they can speak to if they have concerns
Dates for when to check to make sure the policy is working as it's supposed to
Share with your staff
Use your meetings, OHS committees or "toolbox talks" to discuss your OHS policies and procedures, including whenever you update them. Share the documents widely so that all employees are aware of them. This could include displaying them on your notice boards or sharing through your email or intranet systems. Make sure your employees have a chance to ask any questions.
Languages other than English
All employees, including those whose first language is not English, need information and training to understand the risks involved in their work and to enable them to do the job safely. WorkSafe has information in other languages or you can call WorkSafe.
For some workplaces, you may need to translate your policies into other languages. You can use a professional translating service, or for simple translation, on-line translating services such as Google Translate can be a good first step.
WorkSafe Advisory Service
WorkSafe's advisory service is available between 7:30am and 6:30pm Monday to Friday. If you need more support, you can also contact WorkSafe using the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) or the National Relay Service.
WorkWell supports leaders to create safe and mentally healthy workplaces. Access the WorkWell Toolkit for step-by-step tools tailored to your business size, or subscribe to the WorkWell newsletter to stay up to date and receive support direct to your inbox!