Elements of a Safety Program

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Most tree care companies have a written safety program or Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) in place, however, we often get asked, do we have everything we should in our written document? The answer, of course, depends on the specific operations of your company, however, this article highlights the six general elements that you want to include in your written safety program.

Commitment to Safety and Assignment of Responsibilities

We all know that the commitment to a safe workplace must start at the top, with all levels of ownership and management. Your written safety program should contain a clear and concise statement of how important safety is to the leadership of the company. This section will also outline the fact that the responsibility of a safe workplace falls on everyone in the organization and that everyone will be encouraged and expected to report unsafe conditions when they see them. It is in this section that you should mention that your organization will adhere to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z133 Safety Requirements for Arboricultural Operations. 

Safety Communication System

The next section of your written safety program should focus on how safety will be communicated throughout your organization. This is the place to outline the foundation of your Safety Meetings and your Safety Committee. You should also make note of the training that will be provided to your team, not only for new employees, but what training will be done on an on-going basis. 

Safety Rules and Work Procedures

This section will start to get into specifics on the type of conduct your team is expected to have, what good shop housekeeping looks like as well as the appropriate usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). You can use this section to address weather related exposures such as rain, ice, snow, dangerous temperatures both heat and cold (if applicable). We also recommend putting your driving and fleet safety rules in this section. Setting the expectation for getting to and from the jobsite safely and how the company will monitor driving records is a very important part of this document. Make sure to include language on Fall Protection along with how a team member will be disciplined for violating a safety rule.  

Hazard Assessment and Control

In this section, you will want to state how your team assesses the hazards that they face on each jobsite. Your jobsite setup and briefing procedure is an integral part of this section. You can also focus on specific equipment that you use or special procedures that may be unique to your company here. 

Incident Reporting and Accident Analysis

Creating clear incident reporting and accident analysis procedures is part of this section. Here you want to identify the responsibilities of each person involved in an accident and give guidance on what information must be gathered at the time of the incident. You should also include how your company will handle employee injuries from a Return to Work/Light Duty standpoint as well as what the follow up will be when a safety violation or incident has occurred. 

Documentation and Employee Acknowledgement 

The final element that your written safety program needs is a procedure for documentation and record keeping for all of the safety items. Along with the documentation expectation, you should have each employee sign an acknowledgement form showing that they have been trained on the document and that they understand their responsibility for their own and their team’s safety. 

It’s important to note that your written safety program doesn’t need to follow this exact format, but should contain these elements at a minimum. If you’d like more help with your written safety program, contact an ArboRisk team member today and get signed up for our Thrive Safety Package. We will work with you one-on-one to help you develop the best written safety program possible and boost the safety culture of your organization.