Q9. What is the process for writing policy statements?

Policies, like all corporate level documents, need careful consideration during development to ensure that they do not conflict with laws and other formal guidance within your operating jurisdiction(s). It is recommended that, prior to publication, policies are verified by legal experts to ensure compliance.

The following steps illustrate an approach to developing your own compliant policy documents at corporate level. Obviously, the size and complexity of your operations and also the legislative requirement determine which policies you need and how you approach the policy development process. Try this process for an easy way to start:

• Create a team: Bring together the appropriate resources from management, employees and employee representatives to start the policy development process.

• Identify needs: Review the legal requirements for your jurisdiction and identify policies relevant your activities and operations.

• Develop draft and final document versions: Once you have identified your requirements, create draft documents that can go through a review and approval / consultation process before final versions are completed.

• Develop management procedures: It may also be necessary to develop accompanying management procedures that detail how a policy is to be implemented. For example, if you draft an alcohol abuse policy, you may need management procedures to outline:

• The legal requirements, including right to privacy and confidentiality.

• Whether alcohol or urine samples can be taken and, if so, under what circumstances.

• The chain of custody requirements for samples.

• The requirements and standards for laboratory testing.

• The minimum training levels of persons permitted to take samples.

• The use of kits or single-use testing devices.

• Disciplinary procedures.

• Rehabilitation options.

At a minimum, policy statements must reflect your legal obligations and requirements, so be very careful that all of your obligations are known and that your supporting management procedures are legal and accurate.

• Publish and communicate: Once a final version of a policy document has been agreed, communicate it throughout your organisation through whatever channels are appropriate.

• Monitor and review: Once the policy has been published, it provides a framework of how your organisation says it conducts itself in the matters relating to the policy statement and can be used to check that policy requirements are being met as stated. Ensure that policy statements are reviewed periodically, usually at two-year intervals.

Q10. Who should write our safety management policy statements?

Since a policy statement outlines what your organisation sees as its obligations and priorities, it is very important that this 'foundation stone' for your safety management system is written by senior management (managing director / chief executive officer or equivalent) and endorsed by the Board (where appropriate). It is also vital that these key personnel show their commitment to effective safety management both by signing and dating safety-related policy statements and by reviewing them periodically (usually at least every two years).

If your organisation has a senior management member who is specifically assigned responsibility for occupational safety and health issues, that person should sign the occupational health and safety policy statement too.

Q11. What does an occupational safety and health policy look like?

The occupational safety and health (OSH) policy statement should define key safety management principles and objectives that the organisation subscribes to.

Sample health and safety policy statement

The following is an example of an OSH policy statement:

It is the policy of [insert company name] to comply fully with the requirements of the [insert name and date of Act] and to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the safety, health and welfare of all employees at our place of work.

In pursuance of the general statement of the safety policy, the company shall:

• Provide and maintain a safe place of work and safe systems of work.

• Provide safe means of access and egress.

• Provide and maintain safe work equipment.

• Carry out risk assessments and implement control measures as required.

• Protect, so far as is reasonably practicable, persons not employed by this company who may be affected by our activities.

• Consult employees on matters of health and safety.

• Promote the reporting of non-compliance in behaviours, equipment, processes and procedures.

• Provide such information, training and supervision as may be required to work safely.

• Prepare and periodically review emergency plans.

• Designate staff with emergency duties.

• Provide and maintain adequate welfare facilities.

• Provide a competent person to assist in securing the health and safety of employees.

• Provide sufficient resources to achieve the Company's safety objectives.

• Review and audit our safety management system to ensure continual improvement.

Employees also have clearly defined responsibilities under the Act to co-operate with management to achieve a safe place of work and to take reasonable care of themselves and others.

This policy will be kept up-to-date, particularly as the business changes in nature and size. To ensure this, the policy shall be reviewed annually.

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