Policy and Handbook

A robust Health & Safety Policy is the cornerstone of effective risk management. It sets out your general approach and commitment to keeping people safe and outlines the arrangements you have put in place to ensure risk is kept to a minimum.

Whether you’ve got nothing in place or are in need of an expert review, our Health & Safety specialists can provide you with a policy and handbook tailored to your organisation, processes, activities and environment.

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A firm foundation for compliance

If you employ five or more people, it is a legal requirement to prepare a written policy describing your health and safety arrangements. You must also bring this to the attention of your employees so that they are aware of risks and can carry out their role safely.

Provided as part of our fixed-fee Health & Safety support, get a robust policy and accompanying employee handbook that reflects the best practice advocated by the regulator in its publication HSG65 (Managing for Health and Safety).

  • Carefully crafted by a dedicated consultant and approved by a Primary Authority
  • Made bespoke to your organisation based on conversations with your consultant
  • Covers up to 50 different risk areas, depending on what’s relevant to your business
  • Reviewed annually to ensure it captures any changes to legislation or how you operate
  • Backed up by ongoing support from a dedicated expert to help keep you compliant

Related Information

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What to Include in a Health & Safety Policy

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Health & Safety Handbook FAQ

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Tailored to you for maximum impact

In order for a Health & Safety Policy to be effective, it needs to address the specific risks present within your environment and the particular processes and procedures you have in place. While you may be able to find generic templates online, if this essential document isn’t tailored to your organisation, it’ll do little more than occupy space on a shelf.

That’s why, at Ellis Whittam, we’ll visit you on site to get better understanding of your organisation and its activities, then develop a policy based on genuine insight. We’ll also produce several iterations of the policy until you’re completely satisfied that it covers all bases and provides a clear outline of how you will manage health and safety across your organisation.

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Popular FAQs

Common policy and handbook queries and questions about our service, answered by our Health & Safety specialists.

Who will the Health & Safety Policy be written by?

Your Ellis Whittam Health & Safety Policy will be written by an experienced Health & Safety Consultant with recognised qualifications and technical expertise. If you take up our core Health & Safety service, this person will become your dedicated consultant for all health and safety matters – meaning the advice you receive will be consistent and based on a genuine understanding of your business. Plus, for any questions or areas of your policy that require specific technical expertise, as well as support from your named consultant, you’ll be able to rely on a nationwide team of experts with vast and diverse specialisms and experience.

What sections will it include?

Your Health & Safety Policy will be based on the principle of plan, do, check, act. It will include a statement of commitment describing how the business is organised to fulfill its legal responsibilities (refined to reflect post holder titles), followed by an arrangements section covering all risk areas that are relevant to the business and how they will be managed (contractors, fire, first aid, machinery maintenance, lone working, etc.). For each, it will follow a format of “we recognise”, “we will” and “the approach we will take is…”. It will also cover the importance of risk assessment, monitoring and review.

What does the ‘arrangements’ section include?

This is the main section of your Health & Safety Policy. It will outline all the risk areas that are relevant to your business and, for each, set out the specific systems and procedures you have in place manage that risk. Taking noise as an example, it will state that you recognise the chronic effects that excessive or long-term noise exposure may have and your commitment to preventing this harm occurring. In addition, you recognise your obligation to perform a risk assessment and understand that you have a duty to reduce levels of exposure in line with the hierarchy of controls (i.e. eliminating unnecessary sources of noise or, if this isn’t possible, introducing engineering hazards such as hearing protection). It may also make reference to other documents, arrangements and procedures that support this basic plan, such as a noise risk assessment.

How will the Health & Safety Policy be sent to us?

Your Health & Safety Policy will be sent out in electronic format – so you can share it on your intranet – and will be accompanied by a Health & Safety Handbook for employees and declaration form to collate acknowledgement and agreement, thereby improving claims defensibility.

Can I store these documents online?

Your Health & Safety Policy, Handbook and any other important documents can be stored securely via our easy-to-use portal, MyEW, for easy access.

Does a Health & Safety Policy only need to cover employees?

No. Your Health & Safety Policy will also set out the arrangements you have put in place to protect the health and safety of other persons not in your employment, including contractors, members of the public, and anyone who may be affected by your work activities. We’ll make sure your policy gives proper consideration to these individuals as well as your employees.

What’s the difference between a Health & Safety Policy and Health & Safety Handbook?

Your Health & Safety Policy should set out your general approach and commitment to creating a healthy and safe working environment, together with the arrangements you have put in place for managing health and safety in your business. It is a cornerstone document that states who does what, when and how. A Health & Safety Handbook condenses the contents of your policy into a more easily accessible document for employees to help them understand their role in your creating a safe working environment. While a Health & Safety Policy is a legal requirement if you employ more than five people, there is no explicit legal requirement to have a Health & Safety Handbook. However you must inform, instruct and train your employees on health and safety matters and a Handbook, whether hardcopy or electronic version, is one way to effectively way to do this. You should also ensure that all employees acknowledge they have read and understand it.

Can we write our own Health & Safety Policy?

When it comes to health and safety, creating a written policy is the biggest task you will need to complete as an employer – and there can be no ‘one size fits all’ answer, so template policies that you can fill out yourself are likely to fall short. It’s well worth having this centrepiece document created by a competent professional, as this is the best way to guarantee it is compliant with health and safety legislation, covers everything it needs to and accurately reflects your approach.

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We do more than just policies and handbooks...

Accident and Incident Investigation

An accident in the workplace is every employer’s worst nightmare. We can help to guide your investigation, advise on corrective action and protect your interests in the event of regulatory enforcement.

Can you help us prepare an accident investigation report?

Yes. This can be tricky to get right, especially as once you reach conclusions and set out the actions you have taken, the document is disclosable to the other side in the event of a personal injury claim or prosecution. We’ll help you stick to the facts, keep opinion separate, and make sure the report is presented in a way that protects your best interests and, most importantly, identifies the things that need to be put right to prevent reoccurrence.

We have been written to by the regulator regarding a health and safety incident. Can you help?

Yes. In the event of a serious accident or emergency, we will support your investigation and advise you on your communications with the enforcing authority. We will be there to help mitigate damage, guide you and support you. If you have received a letter from the regulator, we can help you to formulate a response until legal advice is required, in which case (if you have chosen to take it) our Legal Expenses Insurance is activated.


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Advice Line

Whether you’re facing an immediate crisis or just in need of an expert second opinion, get sensible, proportionate and practical advice at any time with our unlimited advice line support.

Who will I be advised by?

At Ellis Whittam, we’re big believers in a personal approach. That’s why we assign each of our clients a named consultant, with who will become your main point of contact for advice, guidance and support on all health and safety matters. If you take up our full Health & Safety service, your consultant will also be the one to conduct your health and safety audit and produce your policy and handbook. This means you’ll receive consistent advice from a dedicated expert who truly understands your organisation’s safety system, arrangements and goals.

What if my consultant isn’t available?

If, for whatever reason, your dedicated consultant isn’t available when you call, our office-based Helpdesk Team will be able to resolve most issues for you or direct you to the relevant guidance or template you need via our Knowledge Hub. If you have a particularly urgent or technical query, our Helpdesk Team can triage this to another expert within our team. Rest assured you’ll never be left without support.


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Audit and Inspection

From a policy that isn’t being executed properly to a procedure or risk assessment that’s out of date, we can conduct a thorough examination of your premises, practices and procedures to identify and remedy any areas where you’re exposed.

What form does the audit take?

There are a number of different models and templates for conducting health and safety audits. Most commonly, and the approach we adopt at Ellis Whittam, is what’s known as a General Risk Assessment (GRA). This is a systematic examination of your workplace to identify possible causes of harm, the likelihood and severity of that harm occurring given the safeguards already in place, and any further control measures needed to reduce risk to as low a level as is “reasonably practicable”.

Will you just provide a report of the issues identified?

No, we report on both compliant and non-compliant areas, and the report will provide clear solutions and recommendations to address particular areas of concern. Unlike some providers, we won’t insert default ‘corrective action required’ responses unless it is absolutely clear what you need to do; we edit to provide clarity. Plus, if you have any questions or concerns, your dedicated Health & Safety Consultant will be more than happy to assist.

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Become Your Competent Persons

We’re so confident in our ability to manage your compliance that we’ll even act as one of your legally-required competent persons, which all organisations must have access to by law in order to meet the requirements of health and safety legislation.

What is a competent person?

Put simply, a competent person helps an organisation to comply with health and safety law and take all reasonable steps to keep people from harm. This will be one or more persons who have the ability to recognise the health and safety risks associated with your organisation and identify sensible and proportionate solutions. The meaning of competent person can be found in Regulation 7 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This states that “every employer shall, subject to paragraphs (6) and (7), appoint one or more competent persons to assist him in undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions and by Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997.”

Why would I appoint somebody external to my business?

Will the individual you appoint as your in-house competent person be able to dedicate enough time to this responsibility? They might know your organisation inside and out, but do they have the necessary skills, knowledge and training to keep you compliant? Do they have a working understanding of health and safety legislation and how it applies to your organisation? Appointing an impartial person, external to your organisation, gives you access to technical expertise and the benefit of hands-on experience, and brings structure to the way you manage health and safety. We’ll help you to set up an effective safety management system, show you what good looks like, and give you clarity over what you need to be doing.


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e-Learning

An optional element of our fixed-fee Health & Safety support, our FCA-regulated Legal Expenses Insurance can cover against the commercial ramifications of a serious safety incident.

What types of courses are available?

Our ever-growing library of e-Learning courses currently covers over 100 topics, including HR courses such as Equality & Diversity, Sexual Harassment and Social Media Use; soft skills courses such as Communication, Leadership and Change Management; and compliance courses such GDPR, Anti-Money Laundering and the Bribery Act. We also offer an extensive range of Health & Safety courses, including Accident Reporting, Risk Assessment and First Aid. Download the full course brochure.

How much do the courses cost?

All of our e-Learning courses are free for the first year when you purchase our Employment Law & HR or Health & Safety managed service. This means you’re not paying per head or per course, which not only keeps down but gives you complete cost certainty over your training expenses. This is particularly handy if your workforce is growing, as you won’t need to purchase extra licenses, giving you exceptional value for money.


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Legal Expenses Insurance

An optional element of our fixed-fee Health & Safety support, our FCA-regulated Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) can cover against the commercial ramifications of a serious safety incident.

What happens if there’s an accident in our workplace? Is it likely we will be fined?

Most reportable accidents in the workplace are not followed up by the regulator, but if they do take an interest, you are more likely to be subject to some sort of enforcement action being taken. This may be an enforcement notice or Fee for Intervention (FFI) breach. Alternatively, it may be the start of criminal proceedings that end up in court, the cost of which can be significant.

Does LEI include legal representation?

Yes. If you choose to defend the claim, our LEI includes legal support right the way through a case, including barrister’s costs. Here, there will be a prospect of success assessment; the likelihood of an acquittal will need to be more than 50% in order to be covered by the LEI. However, if you’ve followed advice from your dedicated Ellis Whittam Health & Safety Consultant, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be covered in this situation. In reality, if we have identified an issue and you’ve taken the corrective action we recommended, you shouldn’t find yourself in this situation in the first place.


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MyH&S Software

Our innovative Health & Safety Management Software will revolutionise your approach to safety management by creating smart “to-do” lists, cutting out the admin and allowing you to monitor your compliance at a glance.

How can MyH&S help me?

Our MyH&S software can transform how you manage health and safety. By turning heavily-administrative, time-consuming tasks into automated processes, it will increase standards and efficiencies across your organisation and free up valuable time. By being able to monitor your compliance at a glance, you’re not left in the dark about how you’re performing and can quickly and proactively identify what action is needed, reducing the potential for an incident and giving you peace of mind. It can also be instrumental in demonstrating compliance to the regulator, increasing your chances of a stress-free inspection.

What exactly is a ‘risk status indicator’?

One of the main benefits of our Health & Safety Software is that you can see, at a glance, exactly how you’re performing and what needs to be done to maintain compliance. When you log in, you will immediately see your Current health status, which gives you visibility of all sites and their current RAG status for ‘Audit’, ‘Registry’, ‘Monitoring’ and ‘Risk assessments’, as well as Location monthly health status, which allows you to select a site and see the progression of the RAG status in any given time frame.


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Risk Assessments

Risk assessment is a fundamental element of health and safety management. Get an expert steer on on formulating assessments for specific risk areas such as DSE, manual handling, COSHH and fire safety.

Is a risk assessment a legal requirement?

Yes. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, all employers, regardless of size or sector, must undertake a “suitable and sufficient” assessment of the health and safety of risks their employees are exposed to while at work, as well as the risks to any non-employees (customers, visitors, contractors, etc.) who may be affected by their activities. If you employ five or more employees, it is a legal requirement to keep a written record of your assessment and significant findings. If you’re not sure where to begin with risk assessment, we can help you.

We have an in-house health and safety team, but they haven’t had formal risk assessment training.

Risk assessment is the foundation of an effective safety management system, yet many individuals with this responsibility have not been taught the basic principles of how to conduct a risk assessment and what the law expects. This can result in an inaccurate estimation of risk, which may lead to certain control measures being recommended that are not necessary or, worse, control measures not being identified or implemented. If you are keen to make sure this essential task is being done properly, our expert Health & Safety Team can devise a risk assessors training package to develop internal competence.


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Experts in Health & Safety

Why choose us?

We have the expertise to help you simplify complex health and safety legislation, find workable solutions to health and safety challenges, and protect your organisation from the rising cost of non-compliance.

  • Approved by a Primary Authority
  • Dedicated specialists with recognised qualifications
  • Genuine hands-on experience of managing risk
  • Cost certainty with our unlimited, fixed-fee model
  • The confidence to act as one of your competent persons

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