Safety Logs: Why Documentation Is Important
A safety log is invaluable as both a record and a reminder.
No matter what the industry is, every project that is carried out has to have safety as its first priority. The responsibility and accountability for the workplace safety lies in the hands of the person in charge, which is normally the supervisor or lead foreman. In this article, we'll look at the role keeping an up-to-date safety log plays in an effective safety system.
The Benefits of a Safety Log
A safety log is basically a written record of both the events of a work day and the safety training and activities as part of that day. A safety log will record training sessions, inspections and audits, as well as other relevant information like the weather and number of individuals on a project. Having a written record of what takes place throughout each day of a project provides many benefits.
- It substantiates what safety measures have been implemented
- It can log factors that could have adverse effects on the safety of the crew
- It can be used as a provision for providing information that leads up to, during, and after, an event
- It can be used in litigation that may follow as a result of an adverse event
- It can be used to identify safety flaws and weaknesses that could be prevented in the future
- It documents the responsibility assumed by the site supervisor, and holds individuals accountable
General Organization of Safety Logs
A well organized log can be divided into sections or might simply be consistent in its daily entries. Depending on the type of project, the supervisor may want to compile notes that are not only pertinent to the safety of the crew, but contain information that may be pertinent to management. This may include notes such as deliveries received, or time in and out for meetings. This is only necessary if there are no other means in place for tracking this type of information, and it is required. (For related reading see How Predictive Analytics Is Changing the Game for Safety Reporting Best Practices.)
To keep the log organized it could be broken down into sections. It should always start with the date followed with the start time of the entries. This is important to ensure that the entries are applied to the right day. It also proves that the supervisor making the entries had assumed the responsibilities for that specific date, and at what time. This is important when there are shifts being run.
If it is an outdoors project the observed weather and forecast should be documented, and if there is any significant change in the weather throughout the day, the time and type of change should be noted. This could prove to be valuable information in the event an individual became injured on site. (Also check out Weather Matters: Spring Specific Safety Topics.)
It should be noted that all safety standards are in effect. The company should have a regulation safety compliance program in place. Whatever this program dictates in regards to safety inspections should be carried out and a note made under the daily entries that it has been complied with. For example, policy may dictate that supervisor visually inspect the work site to ensure that every worker is following safety wear regulations.
The time of the inspection and a brief note of the findings should be documented in the daily log. If anything arises from this inspection that needs attending to this should also be noted in detail. It should include what the problem was, who was involved and what was done about it. It should be followed up and noted that the corrective measures were taken.
Every incident no matter how minor should be entered into the log. It should note the time, who was involved, what transpired, and what was done about it and by whom. An incident report should still be filed formally with great detail included. Incidents can and should include any and all safety issues, problems and delays, and employee conflicts.
In the event of a mishap, any of these incidents could be a mitigating factor or, if not, it can be ruled out in accordance with the findings of the notes made. An incident should be considered as anything that is affecting the normal routine of the project. It could be an employee becoming sick while working. It could be an accident ranging from minor to life threatening. It could be the breakdown of a piece of equipment. It could be the reprimand of an employee. (For more on incident reporting, check out W5 Accident Reporting.)
Prior to making a closing entry for the day it is worth checking back over the day’s notes to see if anything has been left unattended to and, if so, completing what needs to be done. The time should be noted that the supervisor’s shift has ended and the page should be signed right under the closing entry.
Additional Safety Log Tips
- Make sure the notes are fully legible. They should be either printed or hand written carefully
- Use a quality pen. This is so that weather cannot damage the legibility of the notes should the diary become wet. Writing in pen also proves the notes have not been erased
- Be consistent with the format. This will be very important if they are ever used in a court of law
- Be accurate. Make sure that all of the information entered is totally accurate, as this will lend to your note’s credibility.
- Be Transparent. If errors have to be corrected, run one line through the error and make the correction entry. This way it doesn’t appear as though you are altering the notes for any other reason but an error.
- Keep your own records. If you are required to turn in your diary at the end of each shift, make and keep a copy of the daily log notes.
A safety log is invaluable as both a record and a reminder. By writing things down, you are recording the data needed to dig into the details of an incident as well as providing a self-check of your own work to ensure you aren't missing anything critical. Without an accurate safety log from the worksite, any kind of investigation will quickly end in frustration as no one will quite remember the same things about the same situation.