Safe Work Procedures (SWP): Template and Guide
Some job tasks tend to pose harm to the involved contractors, employees, and visitors. Functional risk management systems usually highlight the process of safe work procedures (SWPs), minimizing risks, and ensuring that all the employees are familiar with the methods to perform tasks safely. A safety work procedure should be based on risk assessments. Also, they should be built and implemented in consultation with key safety stakeholders and managers.
What are safe work procedures?
Safe work procedures are documented methods that guide workers on how to perform a particular task. They outline all the steps to be followed when performing the job from start to finish in an organized order. Additionally, they're designed to minimize risks and ensure workers operate without posing any risks to the environment, people, processes, materials, and equipment.
But why are safe work procedures necessary in the workplace?
The primary purpose of safe work procedures is to reduce health and safety risks in the workplace and reduce the chances of injuries by ensuring that workers know how to safely work when performing their jobs.
Organizations should have established safe work procedures or practices for dealing with significant hazards and other situations that may present potential risks for business operations. Safe work procedures should always reflect the organization's approach to the control of hazards.
Generally, the range of tasks your organization performs determines the number of safety procedures and the degree of the details. Managers and supervisors should be in the frontline during the development of SWPs and ensuring all employees get the necessary training to follow all the practices effectively.
What to include in a safe work procedure?
- Name and description of the job
- Potential hazards that may cause harm
- Safety controls
- Pre-requisites or authorizations
- Devices and Personal protective equipment requirements
- Date of creation, review, and revision
- Steps or instructions to follow for safety performance
- Responsibilities of the workers involved
- Clean up and shut down procedures
- Evacuation/emergency procedures
- Prestart, learning, training, and certification requirements
Begin by finding all the hazards, potential dangers, and risks that can injure your workers and put controls in to deal with them efficiently. Identifying the hazard, assessing the risk, controlling the risk, and reviewing the controls are proven steps in ensuring maximum safety and the best approach to prevent injuries within the organization.
Development and implementation of safe work procedures
Safe work procedures should be developed after being identified as risk control measures in risk assessments or corrective actions in incident or hazard reports. A safe work procedure is best for any task that's likely to cause harm to the employees if the risks aren't addressed.
When developing a sound and safe work procedure:
- Determine the tasks that need to be done in the workplace and then identify any possible risks that may cause harm to the workers, visitors, or contractors. Also, this forms part of risk management/mitigation or can be used to address any special risks after the steps are designed.
- Do task analysis for all the identified tasks, outline the steps of every job, all risks, and any controls.
- Document the control measures established for those risks that cannot be eliminated. Thus, the steps of performing the task and the control measures developed usually create safe work procedures.
- After the safe work procedures are completed and approved, they must be implemented. The steps must be followed every time the task is performed to ensure safety. All the entire process should be monitored and reviewed to ascertain that everyone involved in that specific task follows the documented process.
Subsequently, all contractors and employees need to be trained on the established procedures in the workplace. The safety management team should also ensure that the safe work procedures for every task can easily be accessed and reviewed regularly.
In most cases, paper-based forms are used in managing procedures and risks in multiple organizations but digitalizing the entire safety management system comes with a myriad of benefits. With online systems, you can complete safety risk assessments on any device, anywhere, and anytime. Focus on improving your workplace safety with the real-time data and data collected over time for best outcomes.