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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: Can we request medical evidence to prove an employee is fit for work?

Workplace Policies

Q If an employee injures themselves at home and we have concerns about them undertaking their duties, can we ask them to provide medical clearance from their doctor or should it be a company designated doctor? A You can request […]

By Portner Press on May 31st, 2019

Your questions answered: What health and safety obligations do we have to an employee working offsite?

Workplace Policies

Q What are our health and safety obligations to an employee who is working at a client’s office? A The definition of workplace in health and safety legislation is broad enough to encompass any place where a person employed by […]

By Portner Press on May 29th, 2019

5 steps to manage work-related stress

Workplace Policies

In an important decision in March, the NSW District Court found a property manager of a building guilty of breaching its primary duty of care to ensure safety by failing to arrange or verify that a major 10-year inspection of […]

By Portner Press on May 3rd, 2019

Your questions answered: Are employees obligated to take unpaid breaks?

Workplace Policies

Q Can we ask workers with a WorkCover claim to disclose this on any job application? A Generally, it is preferable for an employer not to require a prospective employee to provide such information unless it would preclude the employee […]

By Portner Press on May 3rd, 2019

Your questions answered: Do we have to provide our staff with drinking water?

Workplace Policies

  Q What are the requirements for drinkable tap water in lunchroom facilities, specifically in relation to the temperature of the drinking water in the Queensland summer climate?   A The Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 provide that a […]

By Portner Press on March 11th, 2019

Your questions answered: Can we request medical evidence of capacity to perform work?

Health & Safety Policies

Q: Can we ask our older employees to provide a medical certificate from a doctor stating that it is not dangerous for their health, and that they are able to perform the duties?

By Portner Press on February 22nd, 2019

Your questions answered: Do we need to prepare a return to work plan for a personal injury?

Workplace Policies

Q: If an employee has a non-work related injury, do we have to put together a return to work plan to ensure they do not injure themselves further at work?

By Portner Press on February 7th, 2019

Your questions answered: Can we request medical evidence to prove an employee is fit for work?

Workplace Policies

  Q If an employee injures themselves at home and we have concerns about them undertaking their duties, can we ask them to provide a medical clearance from their doctor or should it be a company designated doctor?   A You can request medical evidence […]

By Portner Press on February 1st, 2019

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