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Health & Safety

A quick guide to Health and Safety Policies

A Health and Safety Policy is a prerequisite for any supplier in the Construction industry. Companies with fewer than 5 employees don't have to write them down. Despite the excellent efforts being made, the Construction industry has one of the highest accident rates.

All policies should clearly state what, when and how. They should set out who is responsible for specific actions.

The following basic requirements follow the guidance of the Health and Safety Executive.

A basic policy should seek to:

  • Prevent accidents and cases of work-related ill health by managing the health and safety risks in the workplace
  • Provide clear instructions and information, and adequate training, to ensure employees are competent to do their work
  • Engage and consult with employees on day-to-day health and safety conditions
  • Implement emergency procedures – evacuation in case of fire or other significant incident
  • Maintain safe and healthy working conditions, provide and maintain plant, equipment and machinery, and ensure safe storage/use of substances
  • Review and revise the policy as and when required.

Policies should look to meet all requirements of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act and other relevant legislation.

To meet corporate responsibility, the HSE recommends the inclusion of stress:

How does CSR relate to stress at work?

CSR takes into account the interests of employees and their health and safety. This includes the effects of work on the development of work related stress. Effective management of health and safety is vital to employee wellbeing.

Employers should ensure that as part of their CSR they consider the health and safety of their employees, including work related stress. This may include, for example, using stress management programmes.

A quick guide to Equal Opportunities/Diversity policies:

An equality policy sets out an organisation’s commitment to tackle discrimination and promote equality and diversity in areas such as recruitment, training, management and pay.

Equality law does not require an equality policy, however, having one shows an organisation’s commitment to equality for workers, customers, clients or service users.  They are frequently asked for in a procurement process.

A basic policy should include:

An equality policy should apply to every aspect of employment, from recruitment through pay, access to facilities and employment benefits, discipline and grievance procedures and so on up to the end of the contractual relationship and beyond, for example, when you provide references. A policy might include:

  • Statements outlining an organisation’s commitment to equality
  • Identification of the types of discrimination that an employer is required to combat across the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation
  • Statements outlining the type of work environment an organisation aims to create, including what is and is not acceptable behaviour at work (also referring to conduct near the workplace and at work-related social functions where relevant)
  • Information about how the policy will be put into action, including how any breaches of the policy by workers will be dealt with, and how concerns and complaints will be handled, whether these come from workers or from customers, clients or service users
  • Who is responsible for the policy
  • How the policy will be monitored and reviewed
  • Details covering how the policy is linked in with other policies.

It is important that senior management in an organisation actively support the equality policy action plan. Having the person at the top endorsing it and showing commitment to it makes it far more likely that the whole organisation will get behind the plan.

To make sure an equality policy is put into practice, the EHRC recommends that there should be:

  • A demonstrable commitment to the policy from the very top of an organisation
  • The agreement, understanding and support of all staff and stakeholders (such as trade unions) for the policy’s implementation
  • Involvement of staff and stakeholders in the drafting of the policy
  • Extensive promotion of the policy both within an organisation and to potential workers, contractors and suppliers
  • Training provided to all staff to explain what the equality policy says and what it means to them
  • Incorporation of the policy into the organisation’s business strategy
  • An explicit willingness to challenge and, if necessary, discipline anyone not following the policy
  • Reference made to the equality policy in other policies within the organisation
  • An action plan in place which includes a commitment to a regular policy review. The review should examine progress in delivering the action plan and ensure that this information is shared.

Monitoring of equality related issues

In order to properly fulfil their public sector equality duty and (in the case of those public authorities to whom they apply) the specific equality duties, public authority employers may be required to monitor matters such as recruitment, promotion, training, pay, grievances and disciplinary action by reference to the protected characteristics of their workers. Currently, there is no legal requirement on most organisations (including private sector businesses, smaller public bodies, voluntary and community sector organisations) to monitor and report on their staff profile. Nevertheless, doing so can help an employer to assess whether, for example, they are:

  • Recruiting employees who are disadvantaged or under-represented
  • Promoting people fairly whatever their protected characteristic
  • Checking that women and men’s pay is comparable in similar or equivalent jobs, or because the work they undertake is of equal value in relation to factors such as effort, skill and decision-making
  • Making progress towards the aims set out in their equality policy if they have one.

This is why many businesses and other organisations already carry out equality-related monitoring.

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