A safety manual representative of a safety culture

Columns - Industry Voices

July 15, 2013
Steve Cesare

Steve Cesare

During the past couple of months, several landscapers have contacted me directly and indirectly to review their companies’ safety manuals. As one would imagine, these documents range in length from a dozen pages to several hundred based on company size, resource availability and organizational goals.

Here’s a sample of suggested content:

Owner’s statement

  • Describe the importance of safety to the company, its employees, and customers; this statement should also include the names of all current safety committee members, with a brief summary of recent safety improvements.
  • Emphasize the direct relationship between the employee’s daily job performance, safe work behaviors, specific organizational goals and continued company success.

Safety culture

  • List the company’s mission statement and core values. Hopefully, “safety” is one of those core values.
  • Publish the company’s safety policy.
  • Describe the company’s safety committee.
  • Clarify individual expectations that all company employees must demonstrate to establish, promote and improve the company’s safety culture.
  • List the company’s code of safe practices.
  • List the company’s safety goals for the current year; draw comparisons highlighting improvements from the previous year.
  • Identify best practices demonstrated during the past year.
  • Outline the entire content of the new employee orientation program emphasizing a safety culture with the employee starting on his first day.
  • Summarize the pervasive presence of safety throughout every aspect of an employee’s job.
  • Present the structures that company has deployed to ensure employee safety like an eye-wash station.
  • Specify common OSHA violations, fines and action items.

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Safety training

  • List the titles of all weekly tailgate safety training topics (e.g., PPE, proper lifting techniques, drugs and alcohol, defensive driving, mowers, ladders, chemical spills) and the scheduled dates they will be presented to the employees throughout the year.
  • List all equipment training (e.g., videotapes, hands-on, on-the-job) topics (e.g., mowers, blowers, trailers, trenchers, snow plows) that an employee will receive.
  • List all federal and state mandated safety training programs that an employee will receive (e.g., first aid/CPR, lockout/tagout, hazard communication, fire extinguisher, emergency action plan, injury and illness prevention program, heat injury illness prevention).

Safety audits

  • List the company safety audit form.
  • List the yard audit form.
  • List the vehicle audit form.
  • List the job audit form.
  • List the procedures (e.g., goal, auditor, schedule, feedback) associated with each audit.

Safety procedures

  • General reporting procedures.
  • Reporting unsafe conditions or hazards.
  • Investigating safety violations.
  • Investigating vehicle incidents.
  • Investigating employee injuries.
  • Procedures for responding to an OSHA investigation.

Workers’ compensation

  • Company overview of workers’ compensation program with specific definitions, procedures and performance expectations.
  • Monthly claims review meetings.
  • Return to work program.
  • OSHA Form 300 postings.

Safety accountabilities

  • Safety criteria like an injury incident rate.
  • Quarterly rewards and recognition.
  • Monthly safety raffle program.
  • Safety hearings.
  • Disciplinary consequences.
  • Personnel file documentation.


  • Employee acknowledgment form.

The recommended content listed above is deliberately amenable to tailored company demands and preferences, thereby promoting incremental value to the organization’s safety culture. L&L

Steve Cesare is an industrial psychologist with the Harvest Group, a landscape consulting group. www.harvestlandscapeconsulting.com; scesare@giemedia.com.