What is a Health and Safety Management System?

We explain what it is and why it's vital for your business.

Health and safety management systems can be the backbone of any business. Not only do they keep employees safe, they make it easy for everyone in a business to try and improve it.

When you hear about occupational health and safety, it’s likely that it impacts you directly. The same is true of ensuring compliance with safety protocols, as you’re the one who needs to be sure they’re compliant with them.

Whatever the topic, these conversations will stress a health and safety management system is essential.

Putting a system in place can make work activities safer, protecting both employees and your business.

The expertise of BrightSafe can make these systems much easier to install.

Specific systems will work better for specific businesses. For example, you would only need a basic management system for a small company whereas large corporations will need extensive systems that cover much more ground.

Regardless of a company’s size, health and safety policies must be in place for employee wellbeing.

But what is a workplace health and safety management system?

It is a formal management system that helps you manage health and safety in the workplace. It can even be the framework of a system, so long as it develops health and safety policies.

Certain factors will inevitably arise when discussing health and safety management systems. These include managing risk assessments and safety training.

Developing and implementing risk management helps everyone. If everyone understands risks and hazards in the workplace and are aware of how to prevent them, accidents and incidents can be reduced.

To implement these measures, you can enlist senior managers to be safety representatives or even organising a safety committee. These evaluations protect employees and everyone within a work environment.

Before you can make these efforts, you need to address certain questions. These should include questions like “how do I safely conduct an incident investigation?”

The stages of a health and safety management system

In order to cover what an effective system is, you must first understand how a system should fundamentally function.

Should it focus on risk prevention or encouraging feedback? Who is in charge of effectively managing it?

There are four key stages that to any system, including the general principles of effective safety management.

Stage 1: Plan

  1. Establish your policy: set a clear direction that you want your business to follow. Ensure to share it with all levels of your business so that everyone understands health and safety in your workplace. You should also include it in your employee handbook so it’s easy to look up and reference.
  2. Planning your policy: work on your policy to make it flexible. A static health and safety system won’t be able to adapt to any changes in a business. Whatever changes to the policy you make, you need to keep your employees up to date. Even if it’s just sending an email around the office, you should keep everyone on the same page about your policies.

This planning involves assessing risk control. Along with how to sustain positive attitudes towards health and safety. It should also include when you plan to review the policy.

Stage 2: Do

  1. Risk profiling: investigate and establish whether there are significant risks in the workplace. Check what could cause harm, how it could do this, and how to manage the risk.
  2. Organising: this step is where you seriously communicate with your workforce. Ensure that everyone agrees with and understands your policies and systems.

Get feedback from your team and work on developing a healthy, positive attitude with your system. This includes ensuring that everyone knows how it affects them and how they can make reports.

  1. Implement your plan: once everyone understands your policies, establish them within your business with adequate training.

Make sure that appropriate tools and equipment for enforcing policies are readily available. For example, establishing eyewash stations and first aid kits.

Stage 3: Check

  1. Measuring performance: check that they have fully implemented the policies and system. Also, check if any of the risks assessed are being properly addressed and controlled. If they aren’t, review your policies and ensure that you see to the risks.
  2. Investigation process: encourage an open-policy with reporting accidents and incidents. Confirm with your team that those in charge of health and safety will thoroughly investigate all reported accidents and incidents.

Stage 4: Act

  1. Review your system: once the system has been in place for a set amount of time, arrange a time to closely examine how it’s functioning. Check if there are any reported accidents and incidents and see what you can learn from them.
  2. Adapt: once you have reviewed your system, adapt it to your business. If you notice any frequent accidents or incidents, react with improvements within your policies.

Why health and safety systems are important

It’s easy to say that health and safety is important. Keeping employees safe within their own work environment is a basic human right.

But, beyond the obvious, why should you know as much about health and safety management systems as possible? It can be summed up into three reasons.

So, what are the three main reasons why a health and safety management system is important?

  1. Moral reasons
  2. Legal reasons
  3. Financial reasons

Well, perhaps most importantly, they are legally required.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that you need a health and safety policy in place. It doesn’t state that a specific system needs to be in place though.

Some legal requirements and health and safety laws may make these systems necessary. For example, the system must follow ISO 45001.

Other than being a legal requirement, there are plenty of reasons to be careful with health and safety systems. These include:

  1. Making the systems simple to understand: transparency with health and safety makes it easier to understand by everyone in the business. It also makes it easier to review in the event of external assistance or assessments. The latter could result in a hefty fine by exterior bodies if the system is too vague or difficult to access.
  2. Making the review process easy to put in place: keeping your policies flexible makes any potential improvements much simpler to implement. If policies aren’t flexible, it can be a long and costly process to update.
  3. Making reporting painless and open: keeping reporting processes easy to understand by everyone in a business is essential. Not only does it keep everyone feeling safe at work, but it can also prevent large fines.

Health and safety management systems

Still confused about managing health & safety in the workplace? Still asking “but what is health and safety?” You aren’t the first and you certainly won’t be the last.

COVID-19 risk assessments can make creating or maintaining a management system truly confusing. It can raise many concerns, making “what is a work health and safety management system” an even more confusing question.

This is where the expertise of BrightSafe comes into the picture.

BrightHR’s team of experts can answer these questions and clear up the confusion surrounding health and safety systems.


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