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.”OK
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?
©2016 The Safely Working Project & P.D. Shafer III
“Safe 6” and “Safely Working” are registered trademarks of Trailmarker Ltd.
The Safely Working Project is focused wholly on employees and their health and well-being in the workplace. The Project promotes useful guidance that does not depend on a safety professional or staff to facilitate in the workplace.
The Safely Working Project envisions a path to workplace safety that is driven by employees and supervisors. This is fundamentally different from the traditional Safety Program where an EHS Professional manages workplace safety. So, instead of top down safety, Safely Working endeavors to succeed from the ground up. “We’re turning safety upside down.”