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Buddy System

Last updated: October 21, 2018

What Does Buddy System Mean?

A buddy system is a type of safety management practice in which individuals are paired or teamed up and given responsibility for ensuring each other’s safety.

It usually describes a mutual arrangement in which both parties are conducting the same hazardous work and have equal responsibility for each other’s safety. However, in some hazardous work cases, only one buddy may be assigned to do a task, while the primary responsibility of the other buddy will be to ensure the partner’s safety.

Safeopedia Explains Buddy System

Buddy systems may also be used as part of the workplace safety orientation process. In these instances, a new employee is paired up with an experienced employee so that the experienced employee can reinforce the safety procedures taught to the new employee during his or her initial induction.

Use of the buddy system is recognized as an important risk control measure by both governmental and non-governmental safety authorities. Both OSHA’s general industry and construction standards maintain an official definition for the buddy system, referring to it as “a system of organizing employees into work groups in such a manner that each employee of the work group is designated to be observed by at least one other employee in the work group. The purpose of the buddy system is to provide rapid assistance to employees in the event of an emergency.”

Buddy partnerships can reduce risk by providing multiple forms of safety assistance. Buddies may engage in preventative measures such as monitoring for or advising of potential exposure to hazards, providing rescue if the buddy becomes trapped or otherwise unable to leave a hazardous area, alerting appropriate persons if an accident or other safety incident occurs, or engaging in immediate first aid if the buddy is injured.

The use of a buddy working arrangement is a legal requirement for some types of hazardous work. For instance, under OSHA 29-CFR 1910.269 (l)(1)(i), the buddy system must be used for any work on electrical systems that are energized by more than 600 volts. Use of the buddy system may also be necessary to meet general duty obligations. For example, in situations where an individual might potentially be exposed to undue risk from working in solitary conditions, the use of a buddy arrangement may be legally required for work to proceed.


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