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Safe Systems and Safe Working Practices

What is a Safe System of Work?

A safe system of work or safe working practices are methodical and comprehensive written procedures to ensure that all essential elements of a task are fully considered. The aim of the procedure is to help identify hazards and eliminate, reduce or manage risk. They are designed to cover all stages and all components of the task including plant, materials, equipment, people and the environment.

When are they needed?

All tasks carried out in the work place must be fully considered and a safe system of work devised and implemented in order to control the risk of injury. In practice this can simply mean basic instruction or the use of appropriate PPE and may not require a detailed written procedure. If the task involves a higher level of risk or the hazards involved are more severe such as those associated with electrical work or hot work then a rigorous and detailed safe system of work is required.

How do they help?

The hazards associated with electricity are well known but all too often the risk is greatly underestimated. Most electrical accidents arise from working on or near equipment which is either: -

  • a) thought to be dead or
  • b) known to be live but those involved in the task are not adequately trained or not taking adequate precautions or not using the correct equipment.

A safe system of work can prevent electrical incidents from happening by providing a step by step procedure to help ensure all foreseeable hazards are identified and suitable precautions taken. This approach means all the essential elements of a particular task are given proper consideration and undertaken safely.

A well written safe system of work would include procedures covering aspects such as: -

  • Planning and risk assessments
  • Environmental factors
  • Access requirements
  • Tools and plant
  • Materials and equipment to be used.
  • Training requirements and staff competency
  • Correct sequence of work
  • Permit to work systems
  • Safe isolation procedures
  • Authorisation to work live
  • Safety equipment
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Supervision and Accompaniment
  • Monitoring, Auditing and Reviewing
Are they a legal requirement?

Yes, work involving electricity is generally considered high risk and therefore stringent controls are required to satisfy the requirements of various parts of Health and Safety law. The main ones to consider being: -

  • Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, Specifically:-
    Provision 2, General duties of employers to their employees,
    Subsection (2), Without prejudice to the generality of an employer’s duty under the preceding subsection, the matters to which that duty extends include in particular -
    Item (a), the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health
  • The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.
  • The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations.
How can Orange Tree Electrical Help?

We can help at any stage in process of developing safe systems of work or we can create a full working system on your behalf. We can advise on procedures, analyse the training and competency of your staff, design a safe system bespoke to the needs of your site, help implement the system and provide staff training.

For more information on regarding safe systems of work or to arrange a free consultation please call us on 01977 624 366 or get in touch via our contact page.