Suggested Format For A Safety Manual

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

A business owner from Idaho called me the other day to discuss his desire to aggregate the company’s disparate safety materials into a single Safety Manual that could be distributed to each new employee at the time of hire. Having reviewed many Safety Manuals in my day, the owner’s desire is a tall and complex order to fill. I have seen Safety Manuals that exceed 100 pages of single-spaced text, that you and I know for a fact have never been read. But they still look cool on the bookshelf, don’t they?

With a preconception for practicality in mind, here is the suggested format I offered to the owner.

Owner’s Statement: The owner’s description of the importance of safety to the company, its employees, and customers; this statement should also include the names of all current safety committee members, with a brief summary of recent safety improvements (e.g., audits, XMOD, cost reduction, vehicle accident rate, rewards and recognition winners).

Safety Culture: List the company’s mission statement and core values. Hopefully, “safety” is one of those values. Publish the company’s Safety Policy. Describe the company’s safety committee (e.g., names, objectives, meeting frequency, and employee interface). List the company’s Code of Safe Practices. List the company’s safety goals for the current year; draw comparisons highlighting improvements from the previous year. Outline the entire content of the New Employee Orientation Program emphasizing a safety culture with the employee starting on Day 1. Summarize the pervasive presence of safety through the employee’s job (e.g., employee handbook, job description, drug testing program, performance evaluation, training programs). Present the structures the company has deployed to ensure employee safety (e.g., Employer Pull Notification Program, eye-wash station, right-to-know, medical provider network, OSHA posters, OSHA approved first-aid kits). List the current financial penalties for various OSHA violations.

Safety Training: List the titles of all tailgate safety training topics (e.g., PPE, proper lifting, drugs, and alcohol, defensive driving) that will be presented to the employees throughout the year. List all equipment training (e.g., videotapes, hands-on, on-the-job) topics (e.g., mowers, blowers, trenchers, snowplows) that an employee will receive. List all mandated safety training programs that an employee will receive (e.g., First Aid/CPR, Lockout/Tagout, Hazard Communication, Fire Extinguisher, Emergency Action Plan, IIPP). Specify the safety training that is included throughout a career path (e.g., Gardener, Crew Leader, Foreman, Field Supervisor, Manager). Present the company’s current annual training calendar.

Safety Audits: List the Company Safety Audit Form, Yard Audit Form, Vehicle Audit Form, Job Audit Form, etc.

Safety Procedures: List the General Reporting Procedures, Reporting Unsafe Conditions or Hazards, Investigating Safety Violations, Investigating Vehicle Incidents, and Investigating Employee Injuries.

Workers’ Compensation: Provide an overview of the company’s workers’ compensation program with specific definitions, procedures, and expectations, Return to Work Program, and OSHA Form 300 postings.

Safety Programs: Present the Rewards and Recognition, Safety Raffle Program, Safety Hearing Format, Disciplinary Consequences, and Personnel File Documentation.

Acknowledgment: Employee Acknowledgment Form

Please be aware that while many companies still have “Safety Manuals,” an increased number of high-performing companies have converted much of this content into PDF modules capable of being downloaded onto a cell phone or tablet, with even more advanced companies having 3-4 minute equipment safety videos capable of being reviewed at a job site.

If you have any questions or comments about this topic or anything else related to human resources, simply call me at (760) 685-3800.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.