Set up a health and safety management system

Health and safety management standards

Dealing with all the challenges facing your business can be complex and time-consuming. When you're under pressure, it's all too easy to look for a quick fix rather than the best solution or to overlook key health and safety issues.

Having ahealth and safety management system in place helps you take control. It sets out how to handle key activities, so that everyone knows the right way of doing things. It also lets you apply a consistent, structured approach to tasks and see what's working well, and where you could make improvements.

Your health and safety management system could take the form of:

  • a recognised national or international standard
  • a sector-specific framework
  • in-house standards, procedures or codes

Key management standards

Two organisations produce a range of management standards:

  • the British Standards Institution (BSI)
  • the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

The standards bring together the experience of business managers and other experts of what works best. Using one of these recognised management standards can be more effective than designing your own system from scratch.

The standards don't tell you exactly what you should do. Instead, they provide a framework for developing your system. They help you identify the key issues, but are flexible enough to allow you to produce a system that's right for your individual business.

The following standards from the BSI show you how to design and run a safety management system:

The Healthy and Safety Executive's standard, HSG65, shows its approach to managing health and safety.

There are also sector-specific frameworks such as the Energy Institute’s high-level framework for process safety management.

You may choose to be assessed against health and safety management standards by either an internal or an external auditor. Successful assessment lets you publicise the fact that you have an effective management system. See control and review your management systems.