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Correct Use and Implementation of a Safe Work System

by Ahmed T.Chohaun

EMA Emergency Management, EMS Emergency Medical Services, FD Fire Departments, Law Enforcement, badges article logo label

What is a safe work system? Why we are using it? Why it is necessary? These are all questions that come to mind when some safety officer or safety practitioner tells us to follow safety rules, safety guidelines, and safe work systems. Actually, the first question is, "Do we know what a safe work system is and how to start and implement one at our workplace, whether large or small?" In fact, it is necessary for all small, medium, and large scale organizations to implement the safe system of work in their workplace because the system benefits all who are working in the organization. It stands to reason that if workers health, happiness, and satisfaction are increased; their production, worth and devotion to the organization, mission, and purpose are increased. A Safe Work System can be achieved in 3 basic steps as the chart below indicates.

Job Safety Awareness

The Safe Work System concept start from Job Safety Awareness because if people whom are exposed to the hazards and risks present at a work place, are not aware of them, they cannot follow the system designed to keep them safe from them. Therefore, if an organization is to implement a Safe Work System effectively, it is mandatory for the organization to create job safety awareness among all workers.

This is not a simple job. You cannot accomplish it with one lecture, one training day, or one flyer on a bulletin board at your station. As responders, we have to build a safety culture among all our fellow workers. This can only be achieved if all of us are willing to change ourselves and become the founders, builders, and maintainers of safety culture in our organizations. In my opinion, if a company really wants to adopt a safety culture or Safe Work System, they have to involve their workers or worker representatives in taking the required steps.

The following below mentioned points are important and provide a step-by-step method for achieving the goal of a Safe Work System:

   1.   Assess the organization’s activities
   2.   Identify the hazards & risk associated with these activity
   3.   Define safe methods and procedures useful for the workers and end users
   4.   Implement the system from top management to the end users
   5.   Monitor & review the system

Assess the Organization’s Activities

To complete this step thoroughly, it is important to assess ALL of the activities your organization conducts; from the most mundane, routine, everyday activities completed with little thought; to the most hazardous, hardly-routine, rarely happen activities that require a lot of thought, preparation, and training. It is mandatory for an organization to assess all the aspects and impacts of the activities and the risks associated with them. Also consider occupational health hazards associated with the activity.

Take account of what materials, tools, and equipment are used; who does the activity, competency levels required to successfully complete the activity, and the area where the activity has, does, or is expected to take place. There may be more to account for, and careful thought will reveal them.

Identify the Hazards & Risk Associated with These Activities

Spot the hazards with the help of workers and foremen, making a list of all the hazards they reveal to you. Develop a presentable document and take feedback and input from your safety department and theirs. Let top management review it as well. After this is done, the safety department can evaluate the risks and segregate them into high, medium, low priorities for the easement of the workers. Where possible, eliminate hazards and reduce the risks before you rely upon a safe system of work.

Define Safe Methods and Procedures Useful for the Workers and End Users

Define safe methods and procedures that are useful for workers and end users by involving the general workers- their practical knowledge of problems can help avoid unusual risks and prevent false assumptions from being made. They also have a sense of responsibility over a specific issue. Simple written procedures are required, and permits to work may be required.

Implement the System from Top Management to the End Users

The Safe Work System must be communicated properly, be owned by all employees, and applied correctly. Ensure supervisors know they should implement and maintain the system of work. Ensure adequate training is carried out for employees and supervisors. Stress factors should be kept in notice and short cuts in the job avoided. Stop work when faced with an unexpected problem until a safe solution can be found.

Monitor & Review the System

The last step is to monitor and review the system for further refinement and improvement:
   •   Periodically check the system and record findings that:
      •   Employees continue to find system workable
      •   Procedures laid down are being carried out and are effective
      •   Any changes in circumstances which require alterations to the system of work are taken into account.

Ahmed Tahir Chohaun is a trainer at the United Arab Emirates National Emergency Response Volunteer Program. He has held positions as the Senior Safety Officer with several companies in the UAE and as the Assistant Public Relations Officer for the Punjab Emergency Service, Rescue 1122 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

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