The implementation and review of health and safety policies and procedures can be a long and arduous process. For this and several other reasons, many companies’ policies and procedures are often treated as if they are set in stone; not to be questioned, only followed. However, this is an incorrect and frankly irresponsible mentality to have. An efficient and successful business requires regular reviews of its policies and procedures, for a multitude of reasons.
Review for New Laws and Regulations
The first and perhaps most obvious reason to regularly review the policies and procedures of a company are new laws and regulations. Complying with all applicable laws and regulations is of utmost importance and failing to do so can have disastrous consequences for any company. Even if, by some stroke of luck, the business in question is not shut down, its reputation will remain tarnished for the foreseeable future, along with greater oversight and insurance costs.
Review for Effectiveness
A review for effectiveness is a good way to find out if a policy or procedure is actually a good fit for your company. For example, if you previously implemented a policy to help reduce the rate of accidents in the workplace but a few months later you notice that accidents are continuing to occur at the same rate as before, the policy you implemented likely has not accomplished its intended goal. A review of the policy would allow you to determine whether it’s implementation or wording could be improved, or even whether it should be repealed outright. This also provides the opportunity for the policy writers to sit down with those who are directly affected by the policies and procedures in question in order to get helpful feedback as to what needs to be changed and why.
Technology and accepted methods can change as well. Over the past few decades, technology has and continues to evolve at an immense rate. As such, our policies and procedures must respond in kind. The proper use of technology can greatly increase the efficiency and overall success of any business, whether it be by streamlining internal communications and collaboration within the company, creating a more comfortable, simpler experience for clients, and more.
Likewise, new technology could render significant chunks of a company’s policies and procedures obsolete. Yet, since those policies and procedures were never reviewed, repealed or modified they must still be followed, quite possibly negating all the benefits of implementing the new technology in question. As an aside, if your procedures still require the use of fax machines, they are long overdue for a substantial review.
Review to Reducing Liability
Reducing potential liability is another major reason to frequently review your policies and procedures. Anyone that knows health and safety knows that an employer or supervisor must do everything reasonably possible for the protection and safety of workers. For example, a policy regarding employee conduct written in 2001 will most likely not hold up to the standards of 2021, and as such will leave the company in question open to liability should allegations of misconduct pop up in the workplace. In addition, should the policies and procedures in question be applied inconsistently they may open up liability factors that are unforseen for a company or workplace.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations also have specific responsibilities set out about a company reviewing policies and procedures. As an example, section 25 subsection 2 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act [R.S.O. 1990, c.O.1, s.25(2)(j)] states that “An employer shall, prepare and review at least annually a written occupational health and safety policy and develop and maintain a program to implement that policy”. This one statement means a review to all your health and safety program on a yearly basis at least.
Review as Training
Finally, policy and procedure reviews can also be an opportune moment to have employees look them over and refresh their memories. If they are never reviewed at a company-wide level, most employees will not give them a second glance following their initial training phase. Over time, the employees could forget whole sections, important details or other elements of the company’s policies and procedures which might cause trouble down the road. It is important to ensure that employees are well versed in their company’s policies and procedures, and these reviews are an excellent way of doing so.
The most successful businesses are the ones that stay in the present and look to the future, not dawdle in the past. Regularly reviewing the policies and procedures in place is an excellent and vital step in doing so. While these reviews can be tedious to say the least, their benefits in increasing efficiency, reducing liability and helping to ensure the overall success of the company make them well worth the time and effort.
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