Employers should have a safety manual for two primary reasons: to communicate safety culture and policies to your employees, and to meet government regulations.
First, many employers have a safety manual because they are required to, but communicating a culture of safety can be much more beneficial to your company. Your safety manual informs your employees from the beginning the culture of the business and what is expected of them, but also demonstrates buy-in from top leadership to your safety program. Your safety manual shows that the business is committed to the welfare of its employees, and that a plan is in place to make employee wellbeing the top priority. The safety manual not only communicates to employees your policies and procedures, but also the level of importance.
Secondly, OSHA may require your business to have certain safety programs in place, depending on the industry, and may require you to effectively communicate certain processes and hazards your employees may be exposed to. And depending on your business, you may have additional safety needs to satisfy client or prospect expectations.
Your safety manual will vary, depending on your needs, but there are a few basic things your manual should cover:
- Your company’s general health and safety policy
- Company rules
- Investigations and reporting
- Workplace hazards and controls
- Safe work practices and procedures
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Preventative maintenance
- Training and communications
- Emergency preparedness
- Records and retention
Take a step by step approach to writing your safety manual. Start with a basic template then make adjustments depending on your business needs. Take the time to explain the connection of your business to safety. Once your manual is complete, don’t just stick it in a desk drawer somewhere – make sure your employees have access to it. Schedule time to review the safety manual at least once a year to see what works and what needs updating.
Contact Brian Plautz at 612-236-1779 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need assistance creating your safety manual.
Did you know – if you have more than 25 employees, you’re required by state law to establish a joint labor-management safety committee? Your safety committee can have as many members as you want and can meet when you choose, typically monthly or quarterly, covering a wide range of ideas and needs. Some employers choose to form a committee simply to meet the requirement, but giving your employees the opportunity to gather thoughts and present them to leadership can be a rewarding part of their job.
Your safety committee should be a mixed group of employees and management staff, with representatives from both the front lines and administration. Preferably, employees would volunteer for the committee, or be elected by their peers. You can always select committee members as needed, just make sure the employees you choose can lead by example and have good safety sensibilities and habits. A typical safety committee includes 5-10 members.
Members should make the Safety Committee their top priority and try to attend every meeting, if possible. It’s good practice to bring in an “outsider” on occasion to bring a fresh perspective and show that the committee has the company’s best interest in mind. Don’t hesitate to invite employees from outside the committee to each safety meeting, or ask members to send an alternate when they are unable to attend.
An effective safety committee engages members so that they leave each meeting feeling like they are a part of something important and their efforts are making a real difference. Make sure each meeting has a stated purpose and that every member has the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.
- Assign a chairperson to facilitate the meeting and discussion
- Send out the agenda and supporting information ahead of the meeting
- Have committee members bring their ideas or input from other employees
- Give members assignments and make sure they know they must be ready to present their findings
- Consider replacing committee members if they frequently do not contribute to the discussion
Safety meetings are for finding solutions, not placing fault or blame. When addressing a safety issue, members should work toward a feasible, long-term solution using these steps as a guide:
- Identify and agree on the nature of the problem
- Map out the events to identify the fundamental or “root” cause
- Look for and rank potential solutions
- Select the best solution to the problem and develop a plan of action
A number of tools are available for you to use for your safety committee. Click on any of the forms below to download a copy.
Safety Committee Meeting Minutes
Accident Review Log
Safety Suggestion Box