Policy is a company’s direction and aspirations in a certain area. Activities undertaken by the company is designed to meet the policy.
Where Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) is concerned, Section 16, Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 states that:
… [I]t shall be the duty of every employer and every self-employed person to prepare and as often as may be appropriate revise a written statement of his general policy with respect to the safety and health at work of his employees and the organization and arrangements for the time being in force for carrying out that policy, and to bring the statement and any revision of it to the notice of all of his employees.
Based on this provision, there are several elements, or itineraries, which an employer must meet.
First, the employer must have a written OSH policy in the workplace.
Second, the employer must organise the workplace so this policy can be carried out. This includes determining responsibilities, duties and chain of command in a hierarchical method.
Third, the employer must have an arrangement to fulfill the policy. You may find plans, procedures and other methods necessary to carry out the policy.
Next, the employer must regularly update the OSH policy to accommodate the company’s business, industrial and technical activities.
Finally, s. 16, OSHA 1994 also compels the employer to inform the employees of the OSH policy and subsequent revisions.
At this stage, you should also consider Section 15(1), OSHA 1994:
It shall be the duty of every employer and every self-employed person to ensure, so far as is practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of all his employees.
You can deduce that, the policy:
- Is specific to that organisation, taking into account its industry, size and nature;
- Is as clear and direct as possible, easy to understand;
- Is endorsed by the most senior accountable person within the organisation;
- Is accessible and made known;
- Regularly reviewed and revised;
- Made available to external interested party.
Certainly, the policy must adhere to certain criteria, among others:
- Protects “the safety, health and welfare at work of all … employees”;
- Compliance with the law, rules and regulation enforced or imposed;
- Engage the participation of their employees during formulation and revision;
- OSH performance is constantly and consistently improved.