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How to Develop a Health & Safety Plan

It’s easy to get started on developing a health and safety plan for your business. Here are three steps that will help guide you.

The three steps are a cycle, so once you’ve put the plan in place you need to be ready to review it regularly or when something goes wrong.

All businesses should have a workplace health and safety plan, regardless of their size and structure. If you are an officer, owner or director, you are also responsible for ensuring that the plan is effectively implemented and reviewed.

Get Started!


The first step in developing your H&S plan is to know where you are starting from. You may already have a plan, or just know the way that things are generally done. It’s time well spent to get your team together and involve them in identifying the hazards and risks in your business. Get them to think about how to manage them and continuously improve safety.

You can start by asking these types of questions:

Could anyone be injured or become ill if something goes wrong from the work we do?

What hazards could harm our workers, suppliers, customers or other people?

Do we have any workplace risks that have a low probability of occurring but would harm our people or other people if they did occur?

What processes do we currently have to eliminate or minimise these risks? Do we monitor how effective our processes are?

Are we good at recording and investigating work-related injuries, ill health and near-misses to find out how they were caused and ensure they don’t happen again?

Have we contacted our industry body or union for advice about health and safety legislation, regulations and best practice that relates to our business?

Have we considered what types of emergencies could affect our workplace? Have we developed plans for how to manage in an emergency?

Types of workplace hazards

Physical Hazards

Things that can cause physical harm, like moving machinery, falls from heights or lifting heavy objects. Some of these hazards may cause injury very slowly like equipment with poor ergonomics.

Environmental Hazards

Things in the environment that could cause injury or ill health, like hot or cold temperatures, poor lighting, or uneven ground.

Hazardous Substances

Things such as asbestos or chemicals that could cause health issues such as cancer, fertility problems and even death.

Social Hazards

Such as work-related stress, overwork, long hours, inadequate breaks, or bullying.

Biological Hazards

For example bacteria and viruses that cause ill health.


#2 COMMIT Your health and safety plan is just a piece of paper unless you and your team commit to it. That means demonstrating your commitment and leading by example so that your people also know and care about it. If you have workers, involving them in managing health and safety will help to embed it in your company culture. The effectiveness of your plan rests with you and the people in your business who are out there doing the work on the front line.

How to commit to best practice health and safety:

Develop a health and safety plan that’s easy to understand.

If you already have a plan, ask your workers what they think of it. Is it still relevant? Is it meaningful to them? Does it work to keep them safe? Does it support your company culture? If not, take it back to the drawing board.

Identify how your plan will be monitored and measured. How will you know you’re on track?

Share your plan with all new workers. As a person in charge at work, you’re responsible for the safety of all workers working there, including contractors, and for visitors to your workplace.

Health and Safety Plan must-haves!

1. Procedures for identifying workplace risks and plans for eliminating, or minimising them (including the involvement of workers and their representatives).

2. Procedures for monitoring your workers’ health and exposure to risks that can’t be eliminated.

3. Training records that will show that everyone knows what risks they might be exposed to, and how they can keep themselves safe.

4. A process for engaging workers on health and safety matters that may affect them.

5. Opportunities for workers to participate in health and safety decision-making.

6. Information on what to do in an emergency, including workplace incidents and natural disasters.

7. Procedures for recording and investigating workplace injuries, near-misses and work-related ill health.

8. A process for reporting notifiable events to WorkSafe.

9. Health and safety inductions for all new workers.

10. A process to review the health and safety plan at least once a year or if a major safety–related event happens.


#3 ACT There’s no point having a health and safety plan unless you act on it. The H&S plan needs to become a part of your everyday business practice and be followed by everyone. It helps to have achievable and measurable health and safety targets that will help you and your workers to stay on track.

How to put your health and safety plan into action:

Lead by example

Have clear targets that everyone understands, such as reducing the number of injuries or near-misses

Run regular activities to keep health and safety top of everyone’s mind – think safety training courses or having a practice emergency drill

Keep accurate health and safety records, such as risk registers, incident investigations, notifiable events and training records

Act quickly if there are signs of health or safety issues

Involve your team – give people reasonable opportunities to participate in health and safety

Include health and safety in regular meetings

Review and update your plan regularly.


Keep on top of things! Monitoring health and safety goals and reporting issues will help you know you are effectively managing risks. Directors, managers and owners in your business should receive regular reports on:

Injuries, incidents and work-related ill health.

Newly-identified hazards and associated risks.

Absence rates due to general sickness (often an indication of stress or fatigue).

Injury and ill health leave related to work.

Results of exposure monitoring such as noise levels or chemical exposure.

It is important to identify the root causes of incidents and put an effective response in place. When looking for root causes, look closely at systemic factors such as training, workload or performance stress. Involve your workers and line managers in this process.

Top Tip - Constant Improvement!

Your business will change with time and so should your health and safety plan. Set time aside each year to continually look for ways to improve and adapt your health and safety plan to your changing needs. You may also need to revise your plans if it becomes clear that something is going wrong.

Our H&S team at Leafcutter Business Support is here to help!

For tailored support:
  • Understanding the relevant health and safety regulations, standards, and guidelines that apply to your industry or location.

  • Defining clear objectives for your health and safety plan. These might include reducing accidents, injuries, or exposure to hazardous substances.

  • Creating policies that outline the overall approach to health and safety within your business. These specific procedures should cover how to handle emergencies, use protective equipment, and follow safe work practices.

  • Developing a training plan to ensure that all employees and stakeholders understand the health and safety policies and procedures. Training should cover topics such as hazard recognition, emergency protocols, and proper equipment use.

  • Establishing clear emergency response protocols, including evacuation procedures, first aid measures, and methods for reporting incidents.

  • Implementing a communication strategy to keep all stakeholders informed about health and safety matters. This could involve regular meetings, signage, memos, and digital communication channels.

  • Setting up a system to monitor health and safety performance regularly. This might include incident reporting, near-miss reporting, and regular inspections.

  • Regularly review and update the health and safety plan based on new information, incidents, or changes in regulations. Solicit feedback from employees and stakeholders to identify areas for improvement.

  • Fostering a culture of safety within your business. Encouraging open communication about safety concerns, reward safe behavior, and lead by example.

Supporting ambitious New Zealand businesses to thrive.


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