Detailing safety procedures in your employee manual is very important. Some procedures can be generic, such as general housekeeping items: don’t leave shovels and rakes laying on the ground, always pick up trash in your work area, read all manufacturers’ instruction labels, never remove safety guards from equipment, etc.
However, many procedures are specific to a certain task, such as planting a ball and burlap tree. Specific procedures for such a task may include: making sure the area been marked for underground utilities, wearing proper PPE, using a ball cart when moving the tree, having two workers place the tree into the hole and making sure they use appropriate lifting techniques, safely removing wire cages, twine and burlap from the base of the tree, etc.
These very specific procedures form a job hazard analysis or JHA, which is designed to study specific tasks for potential hazards and eliminate or control those that are caused by workers’ unsafe actions or environmental conditions. These JHAs then become templates that you can use on every project for every specific task and review with employees as needed.
There are typically four steps to completing a JHA. Start by defining the job or task, including necessary equipment. Step 2 is to break the job into a sequence of basic job steps, which tell the worker what is specifically being done (see example below). Then, list the potential hazards affiliated with those steps, such as removing the wire cage, which could expose workers to puncture wounds. Finally, recommend procedures for completing that step safely.
Typically, your JHA for each task would look something like the sample below:
Job: Plant ball and burlap tree
Required PPE and tools: Gloves, protective footwear, shovel, wire cutter, sharp knife or utility knife, ball cart
JHAs can be established and revised over time. Having employees help put together JHAs can make them feel like they have been part of this safety process. Consider forming a committee to develop JHAs as a good team-building exercise and to reinforce the fact that you want to develop and improve your safety culture.