Things you MUST include in an HSE Procedural Manual (and 3 easy ways to get your employees to follow it)
The growing consciousness on the importance of occupational health and safety has markedly altered the 21st century workplace. Present-day companies are grasping the significance of esteeming and prioritizing their worker’s health and safety. And this is birthing companies- who are willing to commit to the health and safety of their employees and the general public.
However expressing a policy statement and committing to safety goals on its own does not suffice. A workable outline has to be formulated defining exactly how the company intends to achieve its HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) goals. This outline is the HSE procedure.
What to include in your HSE procedural manual
Having an HSE procedure is non-negotiable if you want your company’s HSE vision to translate into results. In this procedure (often in the form of a manual); the duties, rights and responsibilities of workers and employers are clearly defined, individually and as per their positions.
The reality is that employees, with families and personal responsibilities may not be mindful of a company’s HSE policy. And as such, may not be well-versed in their duties and responsibilities. But possessing a procedural manual, which they are actively encouraged to read, and which they do read, will make forgetting their responsibilities a bit difficult.
Also, not all your employees may be knowledgeable in legal matters. You must equip them with the fact that it’s their right to know all associated hazards in their jobs and to out-rightly refuse a task which they believe is hazardous and inadequately protected against. These rights should be outlined in your HSE procedural manual.
Moreover, your company’s protocol and policies in the event of an injury or accident should be outlined in the procedural manual. If in the unfortunate event of an injury to an employee, what would other employees do? To whom should they report to? Who are the designated first aiders? And what is your company’s directive for handling these situations? All of these questions must be answered in your HSE procedural manual. So that if you are away from work and your designated safety personnel are also absent, staff are not oblivious on the right course of action.
Additionally, your environmental policies should also be spelt out in your procedural manual and all of the company’s internal and external activities should be regulated to conform to the environmental policy.
Furthermore, your company’s disciplinary protocol in the event of employee misbehaviour within or outside the workplace should be included. Its view towards alcohol, drugs and smoking should be clearly defined, and when available, designated areas for smoking should be mentioned.
Crucially, you must not forget to include an agreement receipt, which if signed shows that the employees have read, understood and agreed to follow the stipulated instructions and guidelines.
By providing this procedural manual (and encouraging employees to read it) you are making deliberate efforts to create a safer environment for everyone in your workplace and reducing the potential for injuries and accidents.
3 ways to get your employees on board
For a procedural manual to be effective, employee compliance is key and the onus is on you to fashion out this compliance. Employees may require some degree of ‘persuasion’ to take the guidelines seriously. Rather than castigating employees who fall short of executing the guidelines, you should come up with ways to help them follow the guidelines.
1. Creating FUN programs (trainings and workshops):
The keyword here is fun. Employees are bored enough at their jobs and creating additional ‘uninteresting’ programs may be counter-productive. By making the programs interesting (add games!); it becomes something for them to look forward to. Moreover, the programs will equip them with the required know-how to follow the procedural guidelines to the latter. Through these programs, the idea of workplace safety is indoctrinated into the employees and there is less potential for accidents and injuries in your workplace.
Maybe as part of your safety goals for the year in view, you want your employees to all wear PPEs to protect against hazards. Great! Organise PPE workshops for them! You would be amazed by the results.
2. Supervise and Inspect:
Employees are not some advanced super-robotic machines (unless you work with robots), they are humans- and as such they may struggle to grasp and enact your guidelines. This is understandable. However, you must insist on total compliance and gently nudge the employees in that direction. Through supervisions and inspections, you can know those employees who are yet to fully understand what is required of them, and proceed to correcting them. Moreover, you will also know those employees who are doing exactly what is required of them and delegate them as kind of mini safety instructors to teach (and encourage) the other employees.
3. Give them incentives: awards and promotions:
What better way to encourage employees to follow your procedural guidelines than the promise of awards or promotions? Humans are naturally a very competitive breed, and this extends to the workplace. You can use this attribute for your benefit. By awarding or promoting deserving employees who stuck to the guidelines, other employees are motivated to follow the policies, so that they too can gain awards and promotions.
Ultimately, the aim of the procedural manual is to give employees a tool to guide, instruct and nudge them in the right direction- safety-wise. So that whether or not you are absent or present, your HSE policy statement is operational. By getting your procedural manual across to staff, you get them inclined towards safer practices in the workplace. And, wherever they are, their actions will reverberate your company’s excellence in health, safety and environmental affairs. Now, how would you like that?
If there’s anything you will include (or, have included) in your procedural manual, or any ingenious ways you’ve come up with to get your employees to follow your guidelines, let us know in the comment section.
Author Bio (Precious Marho)
Precious Marho is a freelance writer
Specialize in occupational health, safety and oil and gas.