A recent comment about Safe 6 suggested that it represented “getting back to basics.” Certainly, that’s it on the surface. However, I contend that we’ve never done the “basics” very well. My evidence is this. Define “safe work practices.”
We all know what a safe work practice is, but have you ever read an actual definition? OSHA doesn’t define it. But, they do think it’s a very important part of workplace health and safety. “Safe work practices” are mentioned five times in the non-mandatory OSHA Health and Safety Program Management Guidelines.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a complete definition of safe work practice. Here are a couple definitions I found, so I’ll save you the trouble of searching yourself. Are they complete?
Definition 1 – From <http://definitions.uslegal.com/s/safe-work-practices/>
“Safe work practices are procedures adopted for carrying out specific tasks that ensures workers’ exposure to hazardous situations, substances, and physical agents is controlled in a safe manner.”
Definition 2 – From <http://wiki.answers.com/Q/The_definition_for_safe_work_practices>
“Safe work practices are generally written methods outlining how to perform a task with minimum risk to people, equipment, materials, environment, and processes. “
Nothing earth-shattering there. Pretty much how you’d describe a safe work practice…. what it takes to get the job done safely. Okay, write your own safe work practice for changing a light bulb using the above definitions. So, does either definition help? Sure, I know one of you yelled at me and said, conduct a JHA or JSA and use that. Good answer, I couldn’t agree more.
However, a JSA/JHA is a fairly formal process that is completed by a team trained to complete the analysis. It is essential for complicated, poorly characterized tasks. Is it absolutely necessary for the more routine scheduled tasks? I don’t believe so. Anyway, do you have a JHA team on stand-by whenever you need them. I didn’t think so.
So where does that leave us? I contend that without a clear, structured definition of a safe work practice the situation will result in unclear, unstructured safe work practices and training….. or none at all!! Oh, wait a minute. What about Safe 6?
©2014 The Safely Working Project & P.D. Shafer III
“Safe 6” is a registered trademark of Trailmarker Ltd.
“Safely Working” is a trademark of Trailmarker Ltd.