A Health & Safety Policy is a statement of the intention and commitment by the employer toward the health and safety of all employees at the workplace.


Management expectations are those actions and outcomes that management expects the company’s health and safety policy to achieve.


The needs of the workforce include those practices and actions that will minimize risks of injury, damage to health, loss of property or process interruption.


Goals are what you plan to do.





Effective management practices are guided by practical and useful policies. Your Health and Safety Policy provides general guidance to everyone in the company about the how and why of responding to the hazards and risks that impact people, property and work processes in your workplace.


The Health and Safety Policy is a statement of values representing the vision or commitment your organization has with regards to protecting its workforce from harm. It tells people what a company’s standards are in the area of health and safety. For that reason, it is important to ensure that the policy states as accurately as possible the expectations and needs of everyone in the company. The Health and Safety Policy  represents the first step towards an injury-free and productive ‘safety’ culture.

There are five fundamental areas of health and safety to examine when addressing your Health & Safety Policy:


Health & Safety Responsibility -This fundamental represents the vision and direction a company needs to take with regards to health and safety in their workplace. It acknowledges the importance of responding to health and safety legislative requirements as well as the needs and issues arising in the work environment. It means establishing a continuous improvement process so safety is always considered a priority. For example, when establishing a Health & Safety Policy management is taking their legislative requirement responsibility seriously however the continuous improvement process becomes operational when the policy is communicated effectively to all employees.


Management Commitment - A clear set of expectations about accountability to health and safety must be recognized by all employees. This fundamental refers to the establishment of a health and safety presence in the workplace by senior management. It is not good enough to just delegate authority – there must be a visible and active presence regarding health and safety which all management must be held accountable to when performing their daily duties.


Employee Involvement -This fundamental refers to establishing a grass root movement with regards to workplace health and safety by having an expectation that each employee needs to be involved. Employees’ support and/or participation in any and all health and safety initiatives should become the accepted way of doing business. For example, each employee can be involved by participating in the establishment of safe work practices for their particular work area.


Hazard & Risk Management - This fundamental refers to the prevention of harm. This is crucial. Every work environment has hazards and risks. Hazards need to be identified and assessed for risks before effective controls can be put in place. Also, when required specialized areas such as: occupational health, hygiene, and ergonomics need to be addressed in order to prevent or avoid acute or long term harmful health affects that could impact individual employees or an entire workforce.


Health & Safety Education -  This fundamental refers to addressing the learning needs of the workforce. What do your employees need in terms of health and safety education? Who needs what type of education and training in order to protect themselves from injury and illness? Also, the style of delivery provided for any educational opportunity needs to be considered as well as the monitoring and follow-up to make sure the education provided is truly effective for each individual employee.









(NOTE: This list is not totally inclusive.)


Occupational Health and Safety Act

For workplaces with 20 or more employees:

8 Every employer with twenty or more employees regularly employed at a place of employment shall establish and file with the Commission a safety policy in respect of that place of employment.

For workplaces with 5 to 19 employees:

17(1) Subject to subsection (2), every employer with not fewer than five and nor more than nineteen employees regularly employed at a place of employment shall establish a safety policy in respect of that place of employment which may include provision for a health and safety representative.




The activity section of this guide is intended to ensure that you develop a Health and Safety Policy (H&S Policy) that blends the expectations of managers with the health and safety needs of your workforce. This section will guide those responsible for establishing your H&S Policy on how to complete the development so the policy reflects the essential values of mutual trust and respect that companies will need to build a strong safety culture.

Below you will find a list of activities to follow on the left side of the page and to the right of the page suggestions on how to proceed. All suggestions are meant to support employers and employees in their desire to improve their own health and safety practices however the choice is yours!





1.   The H&S Policy addresses the health & safety expectations of management.


2.   The H&S Policy addresses the health & safety needs of the workforce.


Senior managers in the company need to be able to express in a policy statement their expectations regarding the company’s health and safety performance and identify the health and safety needs of the workforce. This can be done by:

§         senior management personnel becoming familiar with the scope of health and safety by learning about the five fundamentals areas of health and safety (see introduction);

§         incorporating statements about the five fundamentals into their H&S Policy document;

§         circulating a draft policy to your Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) members or H&S worker representatives and have them review it for clarity of purpose, understanding of content, completeness and literacy level.


Example of policy statement: “Every manager and employee in this company shares responsibility and accountability for identifying, prioritizing and managing risks of work under their direct control.”





3.   The H&S Policy contains a statement of the organization’s general health & safety commitment.

§         ask the senior manager (on site) to explain his/her beliefs about the importance the organization’s human resources (all employees).

§         use his/her answer as a basis for writing the commitment statement of the policy.


Example of commitment statement: “Our employees are our most valuable resource. Therefore all employees need to work together to achieve and maintain mutual trust and respect for each other’s health and safety needs and to reach our corporate health and safety goals.”






4.      The H&S Policy contains a statement of the organization’s general health & safety goals.

To create general health and safety (H&S) goals management should consider the following:

§         review past accidents and injuries to identify any common causes or trends.

§         research industry sector trends regarding hazards and risks as well as seek out information on emerging issues impacting their workplace, such as, chemical sensitivities, wellness, preventing violence in the workplace, organizational factors influencing health and safety at the workplace etc.

§         based on common injuries and causes, and industry standards, include a clear statement of H&S goals in your policy.

Example statements of general goals: 

1. “Our company will be leaders in prevention of accidents for our industry sector by decreasing our frequency of accidents by ?

2. We will promote the well-being of all employees in our company.”

5.      The  H&S Policy is signed by our senior person at the workplace.


To reflect management’s commitment to the policy document it should be signed by the senior management person corporately or the senior manager on site at the workplace:

§         a review, by an appointed management representative, of the policy needs to take place when senior management changes are made so the H&S Policy document in circulation contains the signature of the current senior manager.

§         along with the current senior manager’s signature the date of signing should also be included.

6.      The H&S Policy is signed by our Joint Health and Safety Committee members or our Health & Safety Representative.

Having the JHSC members sign the H&S Policy document demonstrates support and cooperation on health and safety in the workplace:

§         a review needs to take place on a regular basis to see that all signatures are current.

§         along with all current signatures the date of signing should also be included.





7.       The H&S Policy is posted throughout our workplace.


A crucial step for senior management is to communicate the H&S Policy effectively. This can be done by:

§         laminating signed copies of the H&S Policy statement and posting it  prominently on bulletin boards throughout the company.

§         posting an enlarged copy of the statement prominently inside the main entrance to the work site.

§         having supervisory staff explain the purpose and content  of the H&S Policy to their employees.

§         Including the H&S Policy in the orientation for all new employees.

§         including a copy of the “new” H&S Policy in the next payroll statement to all employees.

§         if your company has an in-house newsletter, publishing the H&S Policy there, along with an explanation of how and why it was developed.

§         including the H&S Policy as part of all employee literature (i.e. safety plan, training manuals, etc.).

8.      The H&S Policy is read and reviewed by all employees on a yearly basis.

Senior management should include a review of the H&S Policy annually:

§         as part of the formal annual performance reviews for all employees at all levels.

§         by using the H&S Policy as a topic for safety talk meetings, pre-shift or crew meetings at the divisional or department level.