Workers and manager working with documents

Three things you probably didn’t know about safety plans

Author: BLR

What is a safety plan?

A safety plan is a written document that describes the process for identifying the physical and health hazards that could harm workers, procedures to prevent accidents, and steps to take when accidents occur. Written safety plans can be comprehensive, such as an injury and illness prevention program, or they can be specific to a particular activity, hazard, or piece of equipment. The written safety plan is your blueprint for keeping workers safe. Many organizations compile their activity-specific safety plans into a single safety manual.

Why have a written safety plan?

Federal OSHA requires written safety plans for more than 2 dozen specific workplace activities and more than a dozen chemicals. In addition, many states require some or all employers to develop comprehensive written safety plans or offer workers’ compensation discounts to employers that do so. Many organizations adopt voluntary safety plans to prevent injuries and illnesses, increase worker productivity, prepare for special emergencies, and enhance workplace security.

OSHA mandatory written plans

Out of all of OSHA’s many safety rules, there are over 35 written plans, programs, procedures, or manual requirements throughout OSHA 29 CFR 1910 for general industry. There are also requirements for written safety procedures for over a dozen hazardous substances listed under Subpart Z of the general industry rules for Toxic and Hazardous Substances, such as asbestos, lead, and benzene.

Activities or safety programs for which OSHA requires a written safety plan include:

  • Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200(e)) plan for facilities where workers could be exposed to hazardous chemicals. Failure to have a written hazard communication plan is a very frequently cited OSHA violation
  • Emergency Action Plan and Fire Prevention Plan (29 CFR 1910.38 and 29 CFR 1910.39)
  • Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan (29 CFR 1910.1030(c)) at facilities that anticipate employee exposure to blood
  • HAZWOPER Safety and Health Plan (29 CFR 1910.120(b))
  • Respiratory protection(29 CFR 1910.134(c)) for workplaces where employees are required to use respirators
  • Hazardous energy control (lockout/tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147(c)) program to prevent injuries during equipment service and maintenance
  • Permit-required confined space plan (29 CFR 1910.146(c)(4)) for any facility that allows entry to permit-required confined spaces

Basic safety plan elements

  • Policy or goals statement
  • List of responsible persons
  • Hazard identification
  • Hazard controls and safe practices
  • Emergency and accident response
  • Employee training and communication
  • Recordkeeping