In all facets of life, safety comes first. Keeping employees safe is of the utmost importance for any business, and studies have shown that employees who feel safe and secure are more productive than those who don’t. For this reason, businesses adhere to safety procedures, rules, and regulations to ensure that their workers can perform their duties in a safe environment. Whether an organization needs help writing technically proficient safety procedures documentation for their own use or interpreting government regulations, a technical writing team can help to create straightforward documentation of safety-related information.
While businesses and organizations have their own safety procedures, they also need to follow governmental regulations for workplace safety. This is where the OSHA comes in.
What is OSHA?
OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The OSHA is a branch of the United States Department of Labor and is responsible for setting regulations to ensure that workplaces are safe for employees, pedestrians, and the environment. Businesses are required by law to follow the regulations created by the OSHA. These regulations discourage businesses from cutting corners on safety procedures to save money. It is very important to follow OSHA guidelines and regulations in order to avoid litigation in addition to workplace accidents. Additional penalties for violating OSHA regulations range from fines to the possible shutdown of a business.
What are Safety Procedures?
Safety procedures are technical documentation explaining how to conduct work in a safe manner. They consist of directions on how to safely perform a task and what precautions to take. Whether it be instructions on how to properly lock up a storefront before closing or how to connect high-voltage electronic equipment, safety procedures help to minimize risk in all parts of the workplace.
Components of Safety Procedure Documents
While the specifics of safety procedure documents differ based on the task in question, these documents do share some elements. Specifically, safety procedure documents tend to consist of the following components:
This part describes the task that needs to be performed. It goes over what specifically the task involves, its purpose, and the possible dangers involved. Furthermore, the description also serves as a way to get an idea of what the document is about. Specifically, it could be used to sum up what information can be found in the document and the order said information is written in.
Safety preparations cover the precautions and measures that should be taken before beginning the task. This could include cleaning the work area, ensuring there are no unnecessary hazards nearby, and checking that any relevant safety measures are in place or available. It may also list any requirements for the safe completion of the task, such as safety equipment or necessary training.
The instructions in a safety procedures document form the basis and most essential component of said document. They consist of the directions for how to perform every part of the task in question in a safe manner. These instructions should be detailed and thorough, but also clear enough for the intended readers to understand and follow.
Contingencies refer to the plans or measures to be used if the precautions and safety measures fail. These contingencies center around damage control, repair, and treatment. They can include options for treating injuries, plans for limiting the damage or harm caused by equipment failure, etc. In particular, a safety procedures document should always have at least one contingency in case of workers being injured, because – as previously mentioned – the health and wellbeing of employees should be one of a business’s foremost concerns. Contingencies in safety procedure documentation should also include emergency measures to be used in case of a more extreme or serious situation.
The preparations, instructions, and contingencies in a safety procedures document should all be supplemented by images of some kind. These can range from diagrams to blueprints. Images will help to further clarify what the document is trying to communicate to its readers. Specifically, images such as diagrams can explain ideas or processes that readers are having trouble visualizing.
Benefits of this Documentation
Maintaining employees’ safety is the most important thing any business can do. Utilizing a technical writing team to create clear documentation of safe practices is a great way to ensure that workers avoid risk whenever possible. Specifically, safety procedures documentation provides workers with a source of clear and understandable instructions on how to do their work safely, which they can refer back to as needed. Furthermore, such documents help to establish a safe and efficient work environment. Some further benefits of safety procedures documentation are that it…
- Helps keep workers safe
- Minimizes risk of workplace accidents
- Reduces threat of litigation
- Can lower health insurance costs
- Keeps businesses running smoothly
- Helps to establish guidelines for what to do and what not to do
- Encourages understanding of industry-related processes and the effects of a business’s work
Safety Procedures Documentation and Other Documents
Safety procedures documentation notably interacts with other kinds of documentation in a number of ways. For instance, standard operating procedures documentation (SOPs) provide a baseline for the instructions in safety procedures documentation. Meanwhile, technical specifications can give a better idea of how a piece of equipment works, and by extension the potential dangers involved in operating it. This knowledge can then be used to get a better idea of what information to put in a safety procedures document. On the other hand, safety procedures documents can be drawn from to gather needed information for equipment and facility maintenance plans, as the proper upkeep and quality assurance of such resources could be considered part of the measures for minimizing risk.
Who Writes Safety Procedures Documentation?
Technical writers are responsible for creating safety procedures documents. Their skill in translating complicated ideas into understandable information helps greatly with ensuring that the intended readers can follow along. However, other employees can also contribute to the creation of these documents. Safety inspectors and engineers can provide insight on what sort of risks should be mentioned and what safety measures are needed to prevent them. In addition, experts on safety procedures and government are needed to look over the documentation and ensure it complies with OSHA regulations.
How to Write Safety Procedures Documentation
When writing a safety procedures document, a technical writer should first consider what exactly the task in question involves. By doing this, the writer can determine what risks and dangers a worker might face while performing that task. They then explain what exactly the task is, the risks involved, and its goal. From there, the writer explains the precautions and preparations done beforehand to make the work environment as safe as possible. The writer should then clearly and thoroughly describe each of the steps required to complete the task safely and efficiently. This part involves the specifics of the task, what must be done to minimize risk, and how to effectively perform the task while complying with all safety regulations.
Afterwards, the writer explains the contingencies to be used in the event that the precautions and safety instructions are unsuccessful. They then go on to describe what the end result of the task or process is supposed to be. Finally, the documentation must be distributed to all workers and employees who need it. This includes not only the workers who participate in the task, but also the supervisors, safety inspectors, and the business’s management.
Factors to Keep in Mind
A technical writer should consider certain factors when writing safety procedures documentation in order to make the documentation as effective and helpful as possible. First, they should make sure that the document is both as clear and detailed as possible; it needs to cover all relevant details and aspects of the task, while still being understandable for workers. A lack of proper detail or clarity in such documents can easily lead to serious consequences, including injury or death. The writer also needs to take into account the regulations set by the OSHA, and ensure that the procedures they are writing do not conflict with the former.
It is also important to keep in mind that such documents should not be static. Aspects of a task or work environment may change, and therefore safety procedures documents should be consistently updated to remain relevant and helpful. Finally, the writer should consider how best to organize the document so particular information can be easily found if needed.
Safety procedures documentation gives businesses a way to ensure both the safety of their workers and the continued smooth operation of their work. Without these documents, businesses would constantly have to deal with injuries, damage to equipment and facilities, and litigations. In this way, safety procedures documents fulfill an essential function in every industry.
How EDC Can Help
Whether you need a single technical writer for a brief project or a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation, the quality of our work is guaranteed for you. Our clients work closely with an Engagement Manager from one of our 30 local offices for the entire length of your project at no additional cost. Contact us at (800) 221-0093 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Written by Jeffrey Pinsker-Smith