The first quadrant of the PDCA cycle includes the sub-parts of policy and planning.
An important part of achieving effective health and safety outcomes is having a strategy and making clear plans.
An organisation needs to think about what they are going to do to manage health and safety, then decide who is going to do what and how. This is a health and safety policy. If an organisation has five or more employees, that policy must be written down.
The policy sets a clear direction for the organisation to follow and should be shared throughout the workforce so that everyone understands how health and safety will be managed.
It is best written by someone within the organisation rather than someone from outside, as it needs to reflect the organisation’s values and beliefs and commitment to provide a safe and healthy environment.
It should be written in consultation with the workforce and should be signed by a person at the top of the organisation – the owner or a director. Most importantly, it should make sure the organisations actions, and those of its workers, mirror the statements it has made.
Planning is essential for the implementation of health and safety policies. Adequate control of risk can only be achieved through coordinated action by all members of the organisation.
An effective system for health and safety management requires organisations to plan to:
- control risks;
- react to changing demands;
- sustain positive health and safety attitudes and behaviours.
Effective planning is concerned with prevention through identifying and controlling risks. This is especially important when dealing with health risks that may only become apparent after a long period of time.
In addition to setting the policy, planning should include steps to ensure legal compliance and procedures for dealing with emergency situations. It should involve people throughout the organisation.
Planning the system that will be used to manage health and safety involves:
- designing, developing and implementing suitable and proportionate management arrangements, risk control systems and workplace precautions;
- operating and maintaining the system while also seeking improvement where needed;
- linking it to how you manage other aspects of the organisation.
To plan successfully, an organisation will need to establish:
- where the organisation is now, by considering accurate information about the current situation;
- where the organisation needs to be, using legal requirements and benchmarking to make comparisons;
- what action is necessary to reach that point.