What are Safe Work Procedures (SWP) and why are they important?
A procedure is an outline for executing a task, while safe work procedures are documented rules and regulations for doing tasks to minimize injuries and risks in the workplace. Employees need to be informed about the environment they are working in, the type of tools used, and the steps to follow. Every department has unique safe work procedures depending on the kind of equipment and environment.
Safe work procedures are updated from time to time when new equipment is installed or when recruits are hired. Some work procedures are hard to understand, like chemical handling, while others are simple, like tailoring.
What are the benefits of safe work procedures?
Organizations use safe work procedures to guide employees through a particular task from start to the end in an organized order. Organizations usually establish safe work procedures to address significant hazards or situations that may pose other significant risks and liabilities for the organizations. Some of the primary benefits of safe work procedures include:
- High production rate
Work rate is directly proportional to employees' morale. Employees give more when they know how to execute their duties and operate the machines. Convenience in the workplace is critical when working with machines, and the management must always make sure that the employees are informed.
- Minimal injuries
Fear of injuries leads to anxiety and, in turn, lowers the production rate. Working with complicated equipment without proper knowledge on how to operate exposes the employees to possible injures and thus creating fear among them. A safe working procedure acts as a manual in the workplace.
- Improve mental and physical health
Safe work procedures guide how tasks are done, and machines operated and minimize employees' mental energy. If an employee will struggle to do a task by any chance, their psychological and physical health is affected.
- Improve individual and team cohesion
Safe work procedures bring togetherness and understanding in the workplace. Employees, supervisors, and management interact smoothly because every employee's wellbeing is catered to. It also enhances the smooth flow of communication within the organization.
Components of safe working procedures
- The name of the work task-It is the name of the task to be completed by the workforce.
- Date -It is the date that the safe work procedure was created or revised.
- Department-Different departments will have different safe work procedures. The department written here above should contain only the related safe work procedures.
- Hazards-This section outlines all the hazards the employees may face while on duty. Some of the hazards outlined are; electric shock, sharp objects, falling materials, rotating machinery, smooth surfaces, vibrations, and noise.
- Signs and symptoms of the hazards-The signs and symptoms are documented to give the green light to the affected people. If a particular chemical comes into contact with the skin, the employees need to know how it will react and how to approach the situation.
- Safety tools-The employees need to know what safety tools should be used and when they should use them. Personal protective equipment is outlined here and how to use them.
- Training-The employee needs to be trained on handling tools, especially recruits or when a new machine is introduced.
The safe work procedures workflow
The task to be performed is outlined step by step for the employee to understand it better. The positions in which employees should stand while working, movements, and work area are defined in this section.
1. Process of implementation of safe work procedures
2. Involve all stakeholders; management, junior, and senior employees.
3. Group all related tasks to safe time
4. Identify health hazards involved
5. After identifying the risks, find possible solutions before they occur
6. Document the safe work procedures
7. Distribute the safe working procedures across all departments and employees
8. Train all parties involved. I.e., management, junior and senior employees
9. Implement the safe work procedures
10. Enforce the work procedures and discipline those who go against them
11. Review the safe work procedures regularly- the best way to carry out a review is using the involved parties because they understand it better.
Organizations need to implement safe work procedures to improve the production rate, thus improving profit margin. Managers, supervisors, casuals, full-time and part-time employees need to be trained to benefit the organization and the employees. The safe work procedures should be updated to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.