How to compose safety instructions that you want to read

Safety instructions that fulfil their goal are short and concise and it is easy to read and remember them. The best safety instructions are made in cooperation with the employees. This way, it satisfies the employer, the employees as well as their representatives.

The structure of safety instructions

You can use the following units – ’What to do before work, during work and after work?’

Rule #1 : cooperate with colleagues

The most effective safety instructions are those made in cooperation with employees. However, it is also useful to include consultants from outside the enterprise who can help with their advice as composing a safety guide demands knowledge and quite a bit of time as well.

When including employees to the process of composing safety instructions, you can be sure that:

  • Specificities related to different types of work are included
  • Everyone understands the instructions the same way
  • The information is remembered

Rule #2: use several sources

When composing the guide, make sure you take into account the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the legislation that depends on it as well as specificities related to the working processes of the enterprise. Think through the safety concerns of your working environment and evaluate the risks.

Composing safety instructions is teamwork. The more points of view and opinions you take into account the better. The safety instructions team should include the working environment specialist and the representatives, employees including managerial employees, technicians, and other important members of the team.

Go over step-by-step the entire scenario of work of your enterprise – what kind of work is done and which appliances/machines are used?

When using appliances, determine who is allowed to do the following – start, stop, transport, install, repair, maintain, clean etc. In addition, make sure you know where all the safety instructions are. If you can’t find them, check the Internet.

Think about all the potential threats (physical, chemical, biological, psychological, physiological) that could induce health damage as well as all the preventive measures related to those threats including necessary personal protective equipment, ergonomically correct working positions and the way different machines or appliances need to be used in order to work.

With such scrupulous preparation you lay the premise for the instructions fulfilling as much as possible their goal to prevent work-related accidents and occupational diseases.

It is true that an office worker doesn’t need to be overregulated with safety instructions. It is sufficient to point out the correct ergonomic workplace, the importance of making pauses and the fact that one must act carefully and cautiously in the office.

Rule #3 attract attention

 Don’t compose the safety instructions just to get it done. Your goal is to pass the message in a way that it will be remembered.

We advise you to take a creative approach in a suitable tone and form. Take into account that less is more:

  • A long and boring text will not attract anybody’s attention
  • People can only remember a limited amount of information

In the case of safety markings don’t be afraid to use pictures and other visual material. It is generally easier to remember a picture and to a certain extent you can also give a funny tone to the picture. Humour grabs a person’s attention and creates topics of conversation. That way the information that you presented will be remembered more effectively.

Rule #4: bring out all the essentials

Firstly, clarify all the main physical, physiological, chemical, biological and psychological threats related to the work or the appliances used, then bring out the preventive measures needed to take. When composing safety instructions make sure to use appliance manuals under the unit „during work“.

Describe how an employee can avoid health damage while at work. For example, they can use a suitable piece of personal protective equipment, fix the table to a certain height, clear the way they move by and use sufficient lighting. Make sure to talk about threats that are real. Don’t make a risk analysis out of safety instructions. The goal of the guide is to explain preventive actions needed to prevent damage and to teach the employee to work safely.

Secondly, write down the organization of work and resting pauses. Pauses are important for everyone independent of what his or her job is: our bodies and minds need to stretch out and a way to recover from tension. A well-rested and effective employee is your enterprise’s most valuable asset.

Example. Use a simple model to show when the pauses should occur: after 20 minutes of work, everybody should take 20 seconds of rest in order to straighten your back or stand up if it’s a sitting job. The work is several times more efficient while you only lose a minute per working hour. In addition, the benefits gained by pauses are long-term.

Thirdly, explain fire and electricity safety requirements. It is probably sufficient to refer to another safety guide where this is discussed at length. By referring you avoid uselessly repeating information and you direct the employee to the correct guide. Remember that fire and electricity safety requirements need to be presented in a safety guide when these requirements are different than usual or when the nature of the appliance used for working demands it.

When the safety guide has been composed, find a good visible place to put it. The information it contains or the principles of safety need to be visually remembered by the employee.

Several employers have found that safety-related posters hanged in a visible place at the workplace helps the employees to constantly remember the importance of safety requirements. It is like a concise safety guide on the wall of the working environment reminding people of the important rules to follow in order to avoid health damage.

Summary or four main rules to the composer of security instructions

1. Compose the security instructions with your colleagues
2. Cover all areas of work and all appliances and cover all potentially dangerous situations
3. Be clear and brief. Use pictures and plans.
4. Bring out all the essentials.

It is good to use posters to visualize safety instructions. The picture next to this blog post is not just an illustration, you can also order it to your working environment. In addition to this poster we have several other exciting ones on occupational safety. Ask more about our posters at kristi@riskianaluus.ee.