Health and safety management systems

1. Overview

You're not required by law to implement a formal management system, but they can help provide a structured framework for ensuring a safe and healthy workplace.

If your business is small or low-risk, you'll probably be able to demonstrate effective risk management without this sort of system.

A simpler and less bureaucratic approach may be more appropriate such as that set out in our introduction to managing health and safety. Although the language and methodology between systems vary, the key actions can usually be traced back to the steps Plan, Do, Check, Act.

Minimise documentation

Concentrating too much on the formal documentation of a health and safety management system will distract you from addressing the human elements of its implementation. The focus becomes the process of the system itself rather than actually controlling risks.

Attitudes and behaviours

Effectively managing for health and safety is not just about having a system in place. The success of whatever process or system is in place still hinges on the attitudes and behaviours of people in the organisation (sometimes referred to as the 'safety culture').

Our publication Managing for health and safety (HSG65) provides examples to help you identify positive and negative health and safety attitudes and behaviours.

Examples of systems that may help you

Examples of formal management systems or frameworks that can help you manage health and safety include national and international standards such as:

There are also sector-specific frameworks such as:

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