Managing for Health and Safety

by Jeremy Hadaway

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Organisations have a legal duty to put in place suitable arrangements to manage for health and safety. As this can be viewed as a wide-ranging, general requirement HSE encourages a common-sense and practical approach. It should be part of the everyday process of running an organisation and an integral part of workplace behaviours and attitudes.



Whatever your industry, or the size or nature of your organisation, the keys to effectively managing for health and safety are:

  • leadership and management (including appropriate business processes) and
  • a trained/skilled workforce operating in
  • an environment where people are trusted and involved 

HSE advocates that all of these elements, underpinned by an understanding of the profile of risks the organisation creates or faces, are needed. This links back to wider risk management and can be pictured in the following diagram:

Successful delivery can rarely be achieved by one-off interventions. A sustained and systematic approach is necessary.

This may not require a formal health and safety management system but, whatever approach is used, it probably contains the steps Plan, Do, Check, Act.  Previous HSE guidance has used a single model: Policy, Organising, Planning, Measuring, Auditing and Reviewing (POPMAR). This remains an option but HSE's approach is now to read across more directly between management generally and health and safety management, and in doing that recognise alternatives that achieve the same outcome. (Act means to learn and improve from experience). However, the success of whatever process or system is in place hinges on the attitudes and behaviours of people in the organisation.

Legal duties

All organisations have management processes or arrangements to deal with payroll, personnel issues, finance and quality control - managing health and safety is no different.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to put in place arrangements to control health and safety risks. As a minimum, you should have the processes and procedures required to meet the legal requirements, including:

  • a written health and safety policy (if you employ five or more people)
  • assessments of the risks to employees, contractors, customers, partners, and any other people who could be affected by your activities - and record the significant findings in writing (if you employ five or more people). Any risk assessment must be 'suitable and sufficient'
  • arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures that come from risk assessment
  • access to competent health and safety advice
  • providing employees with information about the risks in your workplace and how they are protected
  • instruction and training for employees in how to deal with the risks 
  • ensuring there is adequate and appropriate supervision in place  
  • consulting with employees about their risks at work and current preventive and protective measures

HSE provides advice and templates on these processes - see their risk management site for more information.


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