How to write a health and safety manual

Any business employing more than five people is required by law to have health and safety policies in place. The health and safety manual should clearly define your commitment to workplace health and safety, as well as identify tasks associated with maintaining a safe, professional environment.

The health and safety policy will clearly outline who is to execute certain safety procedures, as well as when and how they are to be carried out.

Health and safety manuals are not overly complicated documents and can be written personally if the right resources are utilised to ensure they are complete and correct. Consider using some of the tools and templates available on the HSE website to help you get the process started.

What is a Health and Safety Manual?

The workplace safety manual is a volume of information, procedures, and policies put in place to ensure the safe operation of equipment, as well as safe contact within the work environment.

Aside from being required by law, a good safety manual is fundamental in safely and responsibly managing a job site. Employees of the company will regularly consult the manual to check on company policy, find instructions and to ensure they are in compliance with company procedures.

Steps for Drafting a Health and Safety Manual.

When drafting  your company’s health and safety manual, it is important to keep in mind that it is not only employees that will read it. Regulators will also take a look at the document, so it is imperative to include all pertinent information both parties will need to reference.

  1. Write the manual for those who will use it regularly

The manual should address the people who will be using it on a regular basis. Use the following tips to help make certain your procedures are easy to understand:

  • Use short, direct sentences, short paragraphs and simple words to keep the reader’s attention.
  • Make sure all acronyms are explained either in an introductory section or by introducing them into the text using parenthesis. Be sure to do the same for any symbols used.
  • Avoid technical jargon. Use technical terms when necessary, but be sure to provide clear definitions to avoid unnecessary confusion.
  1. Prioritize the manual’s content

Content within the manual should be written in a clear and direct manner, with the most critical safety concerns being the central focus. The manual should begin by presenting and explaining any preliminary issues before leading into the main issues and follow up with any remaining concerns or information.

The layout should be easy to read and understand. The documents should be compiled using proper margins and spacing, with headings and subheadings to identify text groupings and various topics. The beginning of your manual should offer a table of contents as well as an index, and images and drawings used throughout provide excellent visual aids when strategically placed. Documents should look professional and simple, using basic black and white text with minimal shading. Use of boldface and italics is suitable for calling attention to areas of importance.

  1. Gather industry standards and follow government regulations

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed standards for specific areas such as food safety management and risk management. These standards will provide you a starting place to develop your manuals.

Certain government organizations, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stipulations for practices and procedures that must be adhered to. Be sure you are informed correctly about what manuals your business requires, and what should be contained within them. Failure to comply with these regulations can have serious consequences, including lawsuits and in some cases criminal charges.

  1. Be sure the job is done correctly

With health and safety manuals being such an important aspect of a company’s structure, it is vital that they are completed correctly. Taking the time to educate yourself on the guidelines as well as taking advantage of the available resources can provide significant help. If you’re unsure as to where to begin, there are professionals that can help you develop the strongest manuals possible, providing your employees with a strong tool to use in doing their job. By allowing a professional to handle the task you can be sure you have a compliant, well-drafted document.


If you’re not sure how to draft your Health and Safety paraphernalia, or want some expert help on risk assessments, or any other aspect of Health and Safety, then we’re here to help. Why not give Synergos a call on 01484 666160, email or visit our website at and see what we could do to make your Health and Safety issues become a thing of the past.

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Steve Kilburn
Steve Kilburn
I initially trained as an industrial chemist working in a variety of manufacturing environments eventually moving into quality management which grew to encompass environmental and occupational health and safety management systems. I hold a Masters Degree in Health and Safety law and Environmental Law and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Waste Management and I am a Graduate Level Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). In my spare time I enjoy reading, my favourite author is Stephen King, and listening to music, generally from the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
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