Perissology – H&S policies conveying the right message

Vicki Filson

Vicki Filby-Filson
Senior Consultant, Assurity Consulting
10th March 2021

After all a health and safety policy is merely a way of conveying the arrangements of an organisation for health and safety management to their stakeholders – mostly employees, so everyone understands them. Not a time to utilise more words than necessary or words only understood by lexicographers and crossword experts.

So why do so many organisations get their health and safety policy documents so wrong? Here are my top seven:

  1. The policy was originally someone else’s – in 20 years I have never found two businesses exactly alike, ever.
  2. Fear of removing anything just in case it was important – if it doesn’t state how it happens in your organisation and people don’t really understand it, it isn’t important.
  3. Failure to use plain English – this is not a time for specialist health and safety terms.
  4. ‘We have never had an accident’ so it must be ok – probably just luck or operational good practice rather than the weighty arrangements that no-one reads.
  5. Arrangements for hazards that you don’t have in your organisation and detail copied from legislation – it is not a guide for health and safety, that is what the HSE website is for.
  6. Lack of structure – they just tend to grow as there isn’t a framework guide when new topics are added.
  7. It hasn’t been reviewed regularly – well it might have been, but not by someone who actually checked it against current legislation and guidance.

If you think your health and safety policy and arrangement documents have got a little long winded, we are here to help… and we promise to avoid the long and unnecessary words.