Workplace safety plans go by many names: emergency action plans, job hazard analyses and fire safety plans, to mention a few. These documents are crucial to safety at work for good reason. In many industries and jurisdictions, companies can't legally do business without safety plan documentation. But even when safety plans aren't required, they provide a helpful blueprint for all employees to understand the company's safe work practices.

Just by having a safety plan, you make it clear that employee safety is a priority for your organization. That's good for morale and the bottom line.

So why use a safety plan template? A template forces you to think outside the box. If your organization's primary workplace hazard involves handling toxic chemicals, for example, you probably already have safe work practices for handling those chemicals. It's great that everyone knows how to handle toxic chemicals, but what about common but less obvious hazards, like cutting or tripping hazards? Using a template ensures that you consider all in your safety plan by prompting you with a systematic evaluation of workplace safety. This ensures you don't miss any angles in your planning.

Safety Plan Template Basics

Who should have one?
Every organization. Consider the cost (both in human terms and in terms of lost productivity) when someone is injured at work. Most accidents are preventable, so why wouldn't you do everything possible to prevent them?

Why does it need to be written down?
A good safety plan is too comprehensive to memorize. When it's written, it can be shared widely to ensure that everyone from the executives to the workers on the floor are on the same page. Also, every organization deals with employee turnover and written documentation ensures continuity. Moreover, if your company does have a legal obligation to create a safety plan, it'll be easy to find when regulators come knocking.

Where can I find a safety plan template?
Templates are available through a variety of sources. Start with your local regulatory bodies, including municipal, state and federal levels. This'll ensure that you've got your bases covered. Beyond that, the Internet is a great resource. We've listed five great starting points for your safety plan template research at the end of this article.

Elements of an excellent safety plan

When you're evaluating safety plan templates, look for the following elements:

1) Answer the five W's plus H
That is, you're looking for a template that's comprehensive. It should lead to a plan that answers the who, what, when,where, why, and how of safety at work. Knowing your workplace hazards, for example, isn't helpful if you don't know who's responsible for implementing the various safety measures that'll mitigate those hazards. A short list of issues to consider includes:

  • Workplace hazard identification
  • First aid training
  • Emergency communications
  • Ongoing training in safe work practices
  • Roles and responsibilities of staff members and corrective action in case employees act unsafely

2) Easy to scan
Your plan should be comprehensive, yes, but all that information is worthless if the reader can't find what she needs. Make sure the template takes format and readability into account.

3) Easy to review and update
No business stands still, so every safety plan should be reviewed and updated regularly. Make sure your safety plan template is easy to update so that it is a living document, accurately capturing changes in your workplace as they occur.

In the end, a workplace safety plan is only as useful as you make it. Start off on the right foot with an excellent safety plan template.

Sources for safety plan templates

Check first with your local regulatory bodies and governments. - offers free templates for download

OSHA Safety and Health Management Systems eTool - an overview of safety systems

Worksafe BC: How to Implement a Formal OHS Program - includes various safety checklists

University of Washington: Health and Safety Plan - includes free templates

Health and Safety Works: Health and Safety Policy - includes lots of information, including free templates