Proper health and safety planning is crucial says Norwich Union

Article date: 15 September 2008

Norwich Union, part of Aviva, is asking employers to recognise the importance of having an up-to-date Health and Safety Policy as part of its latest Simply Safety campaign.

During 2004/05, 220 people were killed and over 150,000 were injured at work because of a failure to manage risk1.  

Phil Grace, liability risk manager at Norwich Union, says: "In simple terms, a Health and Safety Policy is a mission statement for a company setting out an employer's interest in and commitment to the management of risk within the workplace.

"It is not only a legal requirement for businesses employing more than five people2, but it is equally as important to running a business as managing the quality of products or the budget."

According to Grace: "A good Health and Safety Policy will not only assess those who are at risk of accidents working within the business, but also customers and visitors to the premises, in addition to those who may be ‘passing by', for example a member of the public walking past a building site.

"It does not need to be a lengthy document and it should not put people off reading it.

"There is no right or wrong way to prepare a Health and Safety Policy as it will depend on the individual circumstances of the business but planning a Policy should not be rushed and should involve employees as well as management, as they are the ones who have direct experience of the dangers and issues involved in day-to-day work.

"The Policy should include a 'Statement of Intent', which defines the business' health and safety objectives and how these will be achieved. This should be signed by a director.

"In addition it should include an 'Organisation' section allocating responsibilities to individuals within the business so that risk can be managed properly, setting out who does what.  This helps management to know what is expected of them and informs employees on who to approach for help with health and safety," Grace continues.

"Once the risks have been identified, an 'Arrangements' section in the Policy should set out the precautions to be taken, as well as the controls that can be used to reduce or manage these risks, so safe methods of work should be referred to.

"Implementing the Policy is key to managing risk successfully so it should be communicated clearly to those affected by it, or with responsibilities arising from it. Full copies of the Policy should be made available for use and employees should be made aware that it exists.

"To ensure that the Policy is effective, it must also be monitored to ensure it is being applied appropriately. A high number of accidents are caused by management failures, therefore it is important for employers to identify risks on an ongoing basis and ensure the Policy is a live document," concludes Grace.

An e-training package and one-day "Getting Started" course is available from Norwich Union Risk Services covering health and safety policy. Visit www.nurs.co.uk for more details.

As part of Norwich Union's Simply Safety campaign, a downloadable guide is available from www.nurs.co.uk offering businesses Health and Safety Policy advice.

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For further information, please contact:
Alex Anderson at Staniforth or 0161 919 8021/07779 162583 or Sally Leeman at Norwich Union on 01603 684225/07789 270677.

Notes to editors:

1 http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/index.htm

2 The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva. Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media

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