If you’ve been on the EHS side of a business, the words ‘safety plan’ are probably a daily part of your vocabulary. But the meaning behind these simple words can vary greatly between industries and even companies in the same niche.
Let’s take a look at what a safety plan is and what it includes so you can put it to work in your organization.
What Exactly Is a Safety Plan?
Safety plans are comprehensive tools that detail a framework for safety practices. Each plan is targeted to a specific activity or department – every company probably has dozens of safety plans in their arsenal.
Safety plans serve several purposes:
For starters, it gives every affected employee the information they need on how to handle certain situations, whether it’s a fire in the break room, a spill in the hallway, or decorating the office for the holidays.
Something that many companies may overlook is the impact of safety plans on your employees’ perceptions about the company. Having robust plans in place says a lot about your company’s commitment to keeping your workers safe and feeling secure while on the job. Safety planning can make your team more productive and happy in their work.
What Does a Safety Plan Include?
One of the most challenging parts of creating safety plans is the comprehensiveness of each one. You must provide a framework on how to handle a specific incident, being careful not to leave out any key step or detail that could derail your plan’s effectiveness.
While each safety plan will be unique to the situation, here are a few important details you can use to outline your plans:
- Immediate action to take
- Procedures to secure the area
- Important personnel to contact regarding incidents
- Method(s) of communication to alert others about incidents
- Safe handling instructions and application
- Protective gear, such as masks, hard hats, or gloves
- Evacuation routes
- Reporting and data collection procedures
- Training plans
- Waste or equipment disposal
- Media relations (if applicable)
You may find it difficult to imagine every possible scenario that could compromise safety within your company. It’s even more difficult to think about what you should do in the event of an incident because the severity of each situation can vary.
That’s why it’s important to continually tweak and refine your safety plans as opportunities present themselves. The more observant you can be throughout an incident or activity, the better you can prepare yourself and your people.
How to Implement a Safety Plan in Your Organization
Creating and implementing a safety plan takes more than simply drafting the plan itself.
A safety plan cannot be effective unless the people it affects know how to execute it. For example, if you create a safety plan for a chemical spill, the employees who handle the chemicals should be fully capable of executing the steps in your safety plan.
As people in a department leave and new hires are brought in, they should be thoroughly trained in any safety plans that might affect them.
It’s important to remember that safety plans are living documents. As your business evolves, so will your safety needs. Safety plans should be reviewed frequently (at least annually) to ensure they remain current and accurate.
In addition, you must make each safety plan readily accessible in a moment’s notice. Ideally, you will create a safety plan and never have to rely on it. But in the event of a safety breach, you or your team must know where to find the safety plan and act on it quickly to minimize damage and risk.
Many companies use their safety software tools to keep up with programs and make safety documents easily accessible. Digital copies are readily available in just a quick search, rather than digging through paper-filled binders. Plus, you can access documents offline.
However you choose to house and distribute your documents, the most important thing is that your people know about it.
Some industries are legally required to have safety plans for certain things, such as hazardous spills or air quality. But even if no one is forcing your hand, it’s hard to argue with the benefits safety plans bring to your company.
Further reading: Safety Strategies for Improving Your Program