Safety Manuals

Written by Michael Draper

Here's the scenario, you have been awarded that bid on a large job. You are excited and have worked hard and went thru all the pre-bid meetings, mission accomplished! Until that is, you receive a call from the project manager stating that they need to see a copy of your safety manual. "Uh, sure we will get that right over!" Now the panic sets in. "What do they mean my safety manual?”

A safety manual is a statement of your safety in your business. It explains to a customer such things as drug and alcohol policy, accident investigation and so forth. It also explains in detail the hazards that your company comes in contact with and how you have prepared and trained the employees regarding those hazards.

Why does a company want to see it? They are reviewing what you have probably stated, that you are a safe company. They want to peer into the culture of your company and see if you measure up to what you have probably stated.

The manual is a start but things will start to fall apart real quick in the process if you don't have documentation of things that are stated. Let's say for instance that your manual states that you do ladder inspections on a quarterly basis. Well that sounds good and all but can you produce the logs showing the documentation of those logs? How about with regards chemical safety? Maybe you state that all employees are trained how to read an SDS sheet, but can you produce documentation if asked showing the training took place and employee has signed off on it.

Continue reading below…

The beauty of a safety manual is that it's like a business plan for safety. Everyone in company knows it and breaths it. It sets the tone for the environment that will be displayed. The drawback is that if everyone isn't on board and you aren't working the plan it all fails and companies know this and that's why they ask for it.

Some people may have this large manual that sits on the shelf. often times it is a three ring binder about 4" thick. However most companies are wanting you to email them a copy of your safety manual as they want something they can keep on file as well. So you should have your manual in digital format of some sort. The manual need not be overly complex. Simple statements of your policy on safety implemented in your company will suffice. It's good to note any laws that govern the tasks you write the policy for and make sure there is a way to train each aspect of the manual. It can very easily become your weekly toolbox meetings or aid in Job Hazard Analysis meetings.

Some topics for a window cleaning safety manual might be- ladder safety, roof top safety, rope descent systems, aerial lift safety, chemical safety, vehicle safety and so forth. You can write your own or there are companies that do this professionally. One caution in this regard is to make sure the company you hire has a knowledge of the work you do. If not the manual may contain excessive info that doesn't apply to work you do or it may be hard for you to implement in your company.

For more information on safety manuals please visit

Continue Reading

Tribute: April 1991 Safety and Training Committee Report
This article pays tribute to the IWCA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient at the 2020 IWCA Convention in Georgia.