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Health and safety policies

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An overview of the health and safety obligations towards employees and others who you work with.

The Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 places a duty on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees and others who may be affected by the actions of your organisation.

Health and safety legislation applies to everyone involved in your organisation: employees, volunteers, beneficiaries, service users, trustees and visitors.

Health and safety checklist

Where relevant, the actual legislation is given to help you check your obligations under each set of regulations or piece of legislation.

  • If you employ five or more employees you must have a written, signed and dated statement of your general policy confirming who takes ultimate responsibility for health and safety (normally the director or chief executive) and how other matters such as risk assessment, fire and emergency instructions, and manual handling are managed.
  • All employees and volunteers should sign to say that they have read and understood the policy. Display a copy on noticeboards.
  • Inform people of the existence of the policy at induction and reinforce its content regularly. Consult employees on health and safety policy and other relevant matters.

Complying with health and safety legislation

To comply with current health and safety legislation, you must:

  • display a health and safety law poster (available from the Health & Safety Executive), an employer’s liability insurance certificate and other notices such as 'no smoking' notices and exit signs
  • undertake risk assessments (Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1994) including risk assessments for lone workers, working from home and driving for business, and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, covering the use, storage and disposal of chemicals such as cleaning materials
  • undertake special risk assessments for people under 18 or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • draft and implement an ‘action in the event of a fire’ procedure (The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) - if you have full responsibility for your premises, you should have carried out a fire risk assessment (if you lease the premises you may find that the landlord has arranged this) so use the risk assessment to draft your procedure and include assembly points and fire drills etc
  • assess computer workstations and provide eye tests for employees if required (The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992)
  • assess items which might cause harm if lifted incorrectly or are too heavy (Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (amended 2002) - offer employees basic training in manual handling techniques if lifting is part of their job requirement
  • maintain premises in a clean, tidy and orderly condition (The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992) – ensure emergency access routes are not blocked; eliminate trailing wires or trip hazards such as frayed carpets or wet floors; and maintain equipment in good order
  • provide a first aid box (The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981) and identify an ‘appointed person’ who can monitor the contents of the first aid box and summon medical assistance when required
  • ensure you have an accident book in which to record all accidents, however minor (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995) and that accidents that lead to absence from work of more than three days are reported
  • include health and safety when planning training - this can be formal and/or informal training in group or briefing meetings.

Death at work

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 means it is possible for employers to be prosecuted for 'a gross breach of duty' if someone has been killed at or by work.

Source: Published with permission from Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness. This material is taken from Tools for Success: doing the right things and doing them right, published in October 2008. Download or buy your copy from Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness.

Sample policies and guidance

It can be hard to write a policy from scratch. There are a number of websites which contain sample policies you can download. These are intended as guidance only.


Free resources from British Safety Council until 15 January 2018

A free 24/7 helpline and e-learning for all staff is available to charities of 100 employees and under who sign up to become a Supporter of the British Safety Council. For its 60th anniversary, the British Safety Council is offering some of its most treasured membership resources for one year to help charities help their workers and volunteers. We know that it can be a struggle to manage risk when time and money are tight, and we believe these resources can help achieve our vision of safe and healthy people, either working or volunteering.


Page last edited Jul 03, 2019

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