IOSH: Writing a Health & Safety Policy

The essentials of writing a Health & Safety policy

Coverage:  IOSH Magazine, February 6th 2018.

Whether it’s for your own organisation or someone else’s, Louise Hosking looks at the essential components to include in a health & safety policy.

As a business develops, so will the manner in which it operates. Once it reaches a particular size, a written statement of commitments and controls for occupational health & safety is critical to making the workplace safe.

In many jurisdictions, it is also a legal requirement. In the UK, for example, section 2 (3) of the Health & Safety at Work Act requires employers with five or more employees to have a written health & safety policy.

This should be specific to the business, reflecting its culture and how it operates. It can be tempting to adopt policies borrowed from other businesses or use generic templates, but these off-the-shelf documents will not necessarily fit your organisation.

The policy should reflect current expected standards which is why it is important to review it regularly.

Smaller set-ups may have a combined environmental and health & safety policy, but in larger organisations the document should comprise three distinct parts:

  • a policy statement of intent
  • organisational responsibilities
  • arrangements for fulfilling the statement of intent

Statement of intent

The statement is usually a single page; it is signed and dated by the most senior person in the organisation usually the chief executive or managing director. It outlines their personal commitment to safety and health in the organisation.

Organisational responsibilities

This section will specify responsibilities of defined job titles in managing safety and health.


The arrangements section describes the processes for meeting the policy’s objectives and for complying with regulation. A paragraph is enough for each significant hazard and its controls. You can put them in alphabetical order for ease of reference.


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Louise Hosking is Director of Hosking Associates, and VP of IOSH