How to design a workable safe system of work


A safe system of work is a set of procedures which requires a systematic assessment of a specific task, identification of hazards associated with it, and a work process adopted which will eliminate, control or minimize the identified risk.

It is a specific procedure because a single safe system does not cover all tasks; it is design for a specific task. This means that different task requires a separate safe system of work.

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The safe system of work is a formal procedure, and consists of five (5) components.

Let’s discuss these components:

Components of safe system of work

  1. Assessing work tasks
  2. Identifying hazards and assessing risks
  3. Defining safe system of work
  4. Implementing the safe system
  5. Monitoring the system


Assessing the work tasks

The work tasks need to be assessed. This assessment will help in the identification of inherent hazards in the task and the associated risks. This assessment encompasses the work environment, equipment/machinery, materials and workers. Here all aspects of the tasks are taken into consideration.


Identifying hazards and assessing risk

After the task has been assessed, hazards associated with each component of the task should be identified, the risk level assessed. At this point, we will understand how workers will be exposed to the hazard and the level of risk, i.e., if it is high, medium or low. Check Risk assessment.


Define a safe system of work

From the information gathered, we can then determine the safe method for the task could be completed. This safe method will aim at eliminating the hazard or minimizing the effect of exposure to the hazards. It is at this point that we consider the safest way to complete the task.


Implementing the safe system of work

Just designing the safe system of work is not enough; it will just be document of paper without implementation. The safe system of work for each specific task should be communicated to appropriate category of workers who needs it, and close monitoring and supervision put in place to ensure that the safe system of work is followed as specified.


Monitoring the system

Monitoring the system to see if it is working as planned is very important; this will help check for lapses in the system. When lapses are identified, the system should be reviewed accordingly.


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