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Every business should have clearly stated health and safety policies and procedures that are designed to keep workers safe at your business while meeting your legal obligations.

Health and safety policies are the documented principles, objectives, obligations, and commitments that guide health and safety decision-making within a business.

Health and safety procedures are the documented processes that guide working practices in a business. They include specific procedures that set out step-by-step instructions for carrying out a job or task.

Health and safety policies are essential for your workplace because they:

  • demonstrate that your business is addressing its health and safety obligations;
  • show that your business is committed to working within a set of health and safety principles;
  • clarify functions and responsibilities in your business; and
  • help you manage workers more effectively by defining acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

The development and implementation of policies dealing with workplace health and safety is a critical aspect of your business’s compliance with health and safety legislation in every jurisdiction.

If a health and safety inspector attends your workplace in response to a reported health and safety issue, they will always ask you to provide a copy of the business’s workplace health and safety policy.

The type of health and safety policies you adopt will depend on the size and nature of your business, but most workplaces should have the following policies in place:

  • workplace health and safety policy;
  • drug and alcohol policy;
  • workplace bullying, discrimination and harassment policies; and
  • smoke-free workplace policy.

Of course, not all of these procedures will be necessary for your workplace. Alternatively, you may require other procedures for health and safety issues that are specific to your business. Professional, third party advice may be required to identify and assist in the development of appropriate procedures for your workplace.

Many procedures may also require paperwork to be completed. For example, an incident investigation and reporting procedure requires making incident report forms available to workers if a health and safety incident occurs.

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Top stories for Health & Safety Policies

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Your questions answered: What policies must we have in the workplace?

Workplace Policies

What essential policies you require depends on the nature of your business to some extent. We would usually recommend the following policies as key for most

By Portner Press on January 9th, 2019

Your questions answered: What are our health and safety obligations to employees working off-site?

Workplace Policies

Q: What are our health and safety obligations to employees working off-site?

By Portner Press on August 1st, 2018

Your questions answered: What is the maximum weight for manual handling?

Workplace Policies

Q: What is the maximum weight for manual handling? Is there a prescribed maximum weight limit for lifting in the workplace?

By Jeff Salton on July 11th, 2018

Your question answered: What are the must-have workplace policies we should have?

Workplace Policies

  Q What are the essential (must-have) policies that a company needs?   A What is essential will depend on the nature of your business to some extent. We would usually recommend the following policies as key: alcohol and drugs […]

By Lauren Drummond on June 18th, 2018

Your questions answered: Can we provide over-the-counter medication in first aid kits?

Workplace Policies

Q: We currently stock painkillers in our first aid kits. What is the law regarding the supply of medications?

By Jeff Salton on April 30th, 2018

Simply having a workplace policy will not protect you

Workplace Policies

The decision of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in Condello v Fresh Cheese Co (Aust) Pty Ltd (2018) demonstrates the importance of making employees aware of workplace policies and ensuring that they are applied consistently across the business.

By Lauren Drummond on April 18th, 2018

Why ‘just following orders’ is no defence

Workplace Policies

Australian work health and safety legislation imposes duties on employers and other persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers.

By Charles Power on April 6th, 2018

Your questions answered: Do we have to provide alternate work to a pregnant worker?

Workplace Policies

Q We currently have a tradesperson who has indicated she is pregnant. We have heard it may be a safety concern for her to continue in her current role while pregnant and we would like to offer her an alternative ‘safe duties’ […]

By Jeff Salton on March 9th, 2018

Six tips for introducing new policies

Workplace Policies

Holding Redlich lawyer Lauren Drummond outlines some key steps in ensuring that you get the most out of any new policy you set up.

By Andrew Hobbs on January 31st, 2018

Your Questions Answered: Can we change an employee’s role during her pregnancy?

Workplace Policies

Can we change an employee's role during her pregnancy?

By Andrew Hobbs on December 15th, 2017