Sample Safety Manual or Safe Work Template
How to Write a Safety Manual
A safety manual is a collection of information, instructions, policies, and procedures intended to ensure the safe operation of a device and safe conduct in the workplace. A good safety manual is fundamental to good safety management, as it is what employees will consult to ensure they are complying with regulations and company policy. The following steps cover how to research and write a safety manual.
Researching the Safety Manual
Identify all known hazards that need documentation.This will establish the scope of your safety manual. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to produce a series of manuals, each of which focus on a particular area, with a master manual having sections composed of the individual manuals.
Gather the appropriate industry standards.Organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) produce standards for areas such as risk management and food safety management. These standards provide a starting place for company safety manuals in these areas.
Follow any government regulations for safety manual content.Government organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may require safety manuals for certain practices and procedures and may also stipulate what, at a minimum, the manual must cover. Failure to follow these regulations, let alone not having a manual where one is required, may expose companies to lawsuits and in some cases, criminal charges.
Involve management and employees in preparing the manual.While the actual writing may be contracted to a technical writer experienced in writing safety manuals, it will be more accepted within the company if management and employees are involved in its adoption. Upper management should inform employees of the need for the manual, and employees themselves can assist in identifying content for the manual.
Writing the Safety Manual
Write for the people who will read the safety manual regularly.While outside regulators may examine the manual to ensure all appropriate regulations are covered, they will not read it day-in and day-out as will the employees who must follow the practices it contains. The manual should be written so they can easily understand and follow it.
- Use short sentences and short paragraphs with simple words.
- Write in the active voice.
- Avoid jargon. Use any necessary technical terms correctly, defining them in context where possible, and with simple, clear definitions otherwise.
- Explain acronyms. You can either have an introductory section listing all acronyms with their definitions, or introduce them in the text with the full term followed by its acronym in parentheses and using the acronym thereafter.
- Explain symbols. As with acronyms, you can have an introductory section or explain the symbols as they appear throughout the manual.
Prioritize the issues the manual should cover.The most critical safety issues should serve as the manual's focus. Preliminary issues should be included, presented prior to the main issues, while related issues that are not prerequisites should be covered after the main issues.
Format the text according to the type of information presented.
- Use blocks of text to present general information and explanations.
- Use bulleted lists to present information that can be broken into individual points.
- Use numbered lists for step-by-step procedures, with the steps in the order they should be followed.
Lay out the manual to be easily read and understood.The layout should help the reader focus on the most important concepts and should be consistent throughout the manual.
- Provide sufficient margins and white space between text blocks.
- Use headings and subheadings to introduce topics, identify subtopics, and group text blocks.
- Include a table of contents and index.
- Place drawings and the text that relates to them on the same page when possible.
- Use a readable font style and point size. For printed body text, 10- to 12-point size is best, with a somewhat larger point size for headings. Subheadings can be the same point size as the body text, but set off in boldface, italics, or both.
- Use black text on a white paper for the best contrast between text and background. Shaded text boxes may be appropriate for callouts and sidebars as long as there is still sufficient contrast between the text and background.
- Safety manuals should be reviewed periodically as company procedures, international standards, or government regulations change. Large companies may designate a safety committee or an individual to serve as chief safety officer, while smaller companies may include these responsibilities among those of the chief operations officer.
Video: How to Make a Manual in Word 2010
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