Recording Safe Systems of Work and Involving Workers

Why workers should be involved when developing safe systems of work

Accident rates are lower where employees have a say in health and safety than in workplaces where they do not get involved. Aside from the legal duty to consult, workplaces where employees are interested in making health and safety decisions, are safer and healthier. Employees influence health and safety through their own actions. They are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace. They are also far more likely to adhere to safe systems of work that they have had a hand in developing.

Talking, listening and cooperating with each other can help:

  • identify joint solutions to problems;
  • develop a positive health and safety culture;
  • reduce accidents and ill health, plus their related costs to the business;
  • bring about improvements in overall efficiency, quality and productivity;
  • meet customer demands and maintain credibility; and
  • comply with legal requirements.

Why procedures should be recorded

Well-written procedures are vital in maintaining consistency, ensuring everyone has the same information and that quality training is delivered. Poor procedures, however, can be a reason for people not following the required actions. Reliable and usable procedures are the key to avoiding mistakes.

Procedures need to be useable and used. In addition, suitable task or job aids (flow diagrams, checklists, diagnostic tools etc.) help assure critical steps or sequences within tasks. These should have appropriate warnings and essential information relating to the control of hazards and should keep to a straightforward subtask or action per step.

Procedures can fulfil various functions, such as reference manuals, training documents, on-the-job aids, etc. This function will determine the type of procedure needed, e.g. flow sheets and checklists will be most appropriate for use on-the-job use.

Typical critical procedures include:

  • Start-up and shutdown.
  • Tanker deliveries and tank filling.
  • Emergency response.
  • Safety-critical plant and equipment maintenance.

The more rarely a procedure is used, e.g. those for plant upsets, emergency response, etc., the more detailed it will need to be.