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What are my legal requirements for Health and Safety?

 25/11/2015    Last Modified: 04/02/2016

Legal requirements:

  1. Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HaSWA or ‘the Act’) Section 2(3) requires all organisations etc. to have a policy for managing health and safety. Where 5 or more people are employed the policy should be written down*.
  2. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regs. 1999 (MHSWR or ‘the Management Regs’) Regulation 5 requires organisations to ensure they have appropriate ‘arrangements’ for health and safety.

*It is recommended that all companies operating in an inherently high risk industry such as tree surgery have a written health and safety policy to protect all concerned (see pro forma policy framework in HSE INDG 259)

What does a Health and Safety Policy do?

Your policy sets out clearly how you will manage health and safety. It clearly sates who has responsibility for areas of company responsibility and sets out the general arrangements that apply to the company.

What does it not do?

A safety policy is not a list of detailed specific operations, e.g. this is how we use the chipper, this is how we fell a tree. The written document cannot replace a safety culture but can go towards fostering such a culture and demonstrating the organisation’s commitment to the health and safety of its workers.


A health and safety policy is generally split into three distinct parts:

  • General Statement of Policy = WHAT you are seeking to achieve, and WHY
  • Organisation = WHO is responsible for doing what
  • Arrangements = HOW will this be achieved

The policy should be signed and dated by the owner, managing director, chair of the board any other appropriate person. The policy should be distributed to all employees.

General Statement of Policy

This is the declaration of the employer’s intentions. It should contain commitments to ensure the health and safety of all employees and reflect the requirements of the legislation. It should be displayed for staff to see.


This should reflect the overall structure of the company. General responsibilities for health and safety should be allocated to relevant managers and others who have been given specific responsibilities for aspects of health and safety management. The larger the organisation the more complex this chart can become. It is essential that those responsible know their roles in order to prevent overlap or omission.


These should reflect individual areas of health and safety legislation or requirements, refer to the relevant legislation and provide broad information about how the company will meet its obligations. It is likely that these arrangements will be split into broad headings such as LOLER, Risk Assessment, First Aid and Accident Reporting, Training and Competency, Work at Height etc.

Monitoring and Review

The health and safety policy should be monitored for effectiveness and reviewed regularly to ensure that it is still applicable to the organisation’s structure, scope of operations and in light of any accident or incident reported to or by the organisation.

Further information:

● AA Health and Safety Package – AA <Link to Book Shop>

● INDG 259 An introduction to health and safety – HSE publications

Remember also you have a legal duty to display the mandatory Health and Safety poster, setting out the key employer’s and employees’ duties under H&S, in the workplace OR provide employees with a leaflet explaining the same.

health & safety, legal requirements, policies