A health, safety, and environment (HSE) policy is a statement or document that outlines an organization.s commitment and approach to ensuring the health, safety, and environmental well-being of its employees, contractors, customers, and the general public. It typically includes the organization’s objectives, responsibilities, and guidelines for managing and mitigating risks, preventing accidents and injuries, and complying with relevant laws and regulations. The HSE policy serves as a framework for establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.
What one expects in an organization with an HSE policy is that the training and equipment that exist in such an organization are always of a higher standard, so you have a situation whereby the staff on site are better prepared, which leads to better prevention of incidents and accidents.
An example is fire extinguishers. Now, most people just have fire extinguishers because of regulations, especially those that have them in their cars. They just buy the most basic kinds they can find, and then they just put them in their cars, never checking for expiration dates or whether they’re working or the right kind.
Case Study 1 was a situation when I was driving in my car and I just came across a car burning right in front of me. People were trying to pull back on the road to get away, but I tried to get out my fire extinguisher to help put out the fire. A lot of people were trying to do the same thing too, but at the end of the day, mine finished quite quickly because it was quite small, just the basic kind, but some others didn’t even work at all, no matter how much effort was put into saving the car. It got burned down.
Case Study 2 In a different incident, this time, it had to do with my car when I was driving and it busted into flames from the engine, maybe because it had some kind of fault that I didn’t notice, and I was able to move the car to the side of the road, which fortunately for me was the GTB branch at Plamgrove in Lagos. I am still very grateful to the branch manager because I owe him whatever was left of my car because when I came out and tried to put out the fire, I had a much bigger fire extinguisher from that last incident, but it still wasn’t enough, and some people stopped and tried to help put it out, but with the same results as the last time.
Luckily for me, the branch manager came out himself; maybe some of the customers went in and told them what was happening to a car parked outside on the road, and so he mobilized his team of security personnel, and they came with industrial-sized fire extinguishers and helped put out the fire. They were able to salvage some level of my car; it wasn’t the same even after I spent a fortune fixing it, but it was a lot better than it burning into an empty shell of metal, and that’s an example of one of the benefits because the staff were prepared, trained, and had the right equipment.
An HSE policy should include at least these six essentials.
1. A statement of commitment to ensuring enforcement
2. Clearly defined responsibility for the policy.
3. Employee duties regarding health and safety at work
4. Explanation of health and safety procedures and arrangements
5. Risk assessments.
6. How to handle drug and alcohol misuse
Some of the benefits of having a health and safety policy include:
Reducing workplace accidents: A health and safety policy helps identify potential hazards in the workplace and outlines steps to mitigate those risks. By identifying and addressing these hazards, accidents can be prevented or minimized.
Improving employee morale: Employees want to feel safe and valued in the workplace. A well-crafted health and safety policy can show employees that their employer cares about their well-being and is committed to providing a safe work environment.
Complying with legal requirements: Many countries have laws and regulations that require organizations to have a health and safety policy. By having a policy in place, an organization can demonstrate compliance with these legal requirements.
Reducing costs: Workplace accidents can result in significant costs to organizations, including medical expenses, lost productivity, and legal fees. By preventing accidents, organizations can save money and avoid potential liability.
Enhancing reputation: An organization with a strong commitment to health and safety is likely to have a positive reputation among customers, employees, and other stakeholders. This can help attract and retain talented employees and customers who value safety and social responsibility.
Thankfully, things are changing, even if it’s in baby steps. If you want to register as a vendor with most publicly quoted companies, you need to bring your HSE policy as part of the requirements.
There’s an HR Revolution taking place across the country whereby most medium and even small-scale industries are trying to create a role for HR managers, and these are the ones who are spearheading the HSE policy because it's all about the welfare and well-being of the key assets of the company, which are the people, and by bit by bit, they are bringing about welcomed change.
We now have a fire service regulating most public buildings in terms of safety, and we have the Road Safety Commission regulating cars; thus, we’re becoming more safety-conscious, and we just have to keep walking in the right direction.
OVIGHO RICHARD OKOJEVOH-CIEH.SMC.PMP. is a Scrum Master Certified, Project Management & HSE Professional, and the Executive Secretary of
the Society for Health, Safety, and Environmental Education