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Updating corporate safety manuals in tough economic times
19 Feb 2009
Category : Policy Acknowledgement
Last summer, shortly after developing our Policy Acknowledgement tool, Brian wrote a blog on the issues with getting employees to read policies and SafetySync’s policy management system. This blog hit home with many of our clients that were starting the process of qualifying for ISNetworld RAVS and other new industry policy standards.
With many prime contractors now enforcing RAVS protocols, updating safety manuals and policies has moved up on the priority list for many sub-contractors, especially service companies working in the Canadian oil patch. The global slow down has expedited this process by giving prime contractors greater choice in the sub contractors and service firms they hire on their work sites. Prime contractors now have the ability to enforce polices that they may have been more lenient on a few years ago when the economy was booming and it was difficult to find sub contractors. Many subs are now busy revising safety manuals to ensure their companies do not get removed from a client’s vendor list.
Unfortunately, revising safety policies to meet new standards can be an onerous task. For many companies it means a complete overhaul of their safety manual. There are logistical and corporate issues that need to be addressed when creating new policies. Here are a few points to consider when updating your safety manual:
First, ensure new policies work for your company’s structure, work conditions and corporate culture. Having a 10 page policy may meet every standard and regulation in the world, but if the policy does not apply to your company, the policy is not going to work.
Second, as Brian mentioned in July’s blog, you need to ensure that these new policies are being communicated to your employees. In the past, sub contractors believed that their job was done once the policies were written. Unfortunately, this is only half the battle; the second phase is to ensure that these polices are communicated to and acknowledged by your employees.
Prime contactors are getting wise to the fact that some of their service companies are simply sending in polices that meet their standards. A least one major producer has started to implement an audit process where they visit their sub contractors to ensure employees are aware of the new policies. The audit results have not been entirely positive.
Communicating new policies to employees was a problem that Action Health and Safety Services faced after renewing their safety manual. Sandra Minifie, CEO at Action, was spending thousands of dollars printing safety manuals and then trying to distribute the binders to employees in the field who are often in remote locations. She described it as a “logistical nightmare”.
Sandra now uses
’s policy acknowledgement system to communicate policies to Action employees. The system tracks who has acknowledged the policies, when each policy was acknowledged and what policy version was acknowledged.
Finally, you need to have a policy management system that can adapt to changes in the industry. No longer can you print, bind and distribute a safety manual and expect it to be relevant a year later. Regulations, industry best practices and client directives will inevitably evolve and your manual will no longer be up to date.
The old-school policy change system was to send out a piece of paper, an insert, or a safety alert with the modifications. This process was impossible to manage; inserts got lost or misfiled and safety alerts were not always read. Your safety team must have a system to ensure a replacement policy makes it to the worker in the field.
Fortunately, online policy management systems allow your company to respond quickly and cost effectively to changes in the industry, which will certainly happen as regulations continue to increase and prime contractors have more choice in who they hire in the current economy.
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