Writing Safe Work Procedure

Writing Safe Work Procedure


The Writing Safe Work Procedure Guideline provides University staff with guidance in order to comply with the Work Health and Safety Act (2011) and Work Health & Safety Regulation (2011) in regard to the writing of Safe Work Procedures.


PurposeThe purpose of this guideline is to assist the University to comply with the Work Health and Safety Act (2011) and Work Health & Safety Regulation (2011) in regard to the writing of Safe Work Procedures.


This guideline applies to all staff, students and visiting researchers of Macquarie University and its controlled entities.

Health & Safety Representative (HSR): a staff member who represents workers in health and safety matters, through ongoing consultation and cooperation between workers of a work group and an employer.

Safe Work Procedure (SWP): a working risk-control document that describes the safest and most efficient way to perform a certain task / activity. The procedure generally lists the associated hazards involved in performing a task / activity, what personal protective equipment is required, and the steps involved to complete the task / activity without incident. SWP’s must be developed in consultation with the staff/students undertaking the work/process who have a sound knowledge and hands on experience to allow for all hazards and controls to be appropriately identified. Where possible, the workgroup’s HSR is to be involved in the development of the SWP.

Development of a SWP starts with the undertaking of a risk assessment of the task/ machinery/ equipment/ chemical/ activity/ process in order to identify the hazards, associated levels of risk and suitable risk controls. Use the Safe Work Procedure Risk Assessment Template.

Once the hazards have been identified, appropriate controls (elimination, substitution, isolation or engineering) should be considered and applied. SWP’s should only be considered where more reliable controls are not practicable (elimination, substitution, engineering controls, isolation) or to compliment other control measures, eg selection and use of Personal Protective Equipment.

Observe the task/activities
It is important to observe the task/activity being performed the preferred way to ensure the safest method is documented.

Review any legislative requirements
Some tasks/activities are governed by legislative requirements. These must be considered when developing a SWP to ensure any legal requirements are included. The relevant legislation, regulation or standard must be noted on the SWP.

Where a task/activity uses any hazardous substance/s or dangerous good/s the SWP must reference the relevant Safety Data Sheet for each hazardous substance or dangerous good used.

Outline the sequence of steps
Write down the steps that make up the task/activity.

Record potential hazards
For each step identify what has potential to cause injury, disease or damage
  • to those doing the work
  • to anyone else nearby
  • to the environment, property, plant or equipment.

Identify ways to eliminate and control the hazards
For each identified hazard, list the measures that can be put in place to eliminate or control any likely risk occurring.

Test the procedure
It is important that any procedure is tested before it is approved for use. Therefore, it is important to observe staff/student following the draft SWP and adjust it where necessary.

Obtain approval
Before the SWP can be used it must be approved by a suitable person (eg Head of Department, Laboratory Manager, Supervisor or Researcher) in consultation with the local HSR. The document must then be forwarded to the Manager, Health and Safety for review, document control, numbering and final sign off.

Monitor and review
Once approved the SWP should be given to all staff/students to read and discuss its implementation. Once in place, it is important that staff and students are monitored to ensure compliance with the documented process.

The SWP should be reviewed whenever:
  • the task/activity changes
  • a new hazard is identified
  • an associated near miss, injury or illness occurs with the task/activity
  • there is a change to legislation, standards or codes of practice, or
  • at a minimum of 3 years.

All SWP’s must be recorded in the Health & Safety Document Management directory and SWP record.

A standard template has been developed and approved for use across the University and its controlled entities. The template can be found under the General Forms list. The format must not be changed without the expressed consent of the Health and Safety Unit.

The following need to be included in the template:
  • reference to the risk assessment
  • identification of the location
  • an outline of the training, qualifications or certificates required
  • identification of the warnings and restrictions in the process
  • outline the PPE required
  • clear instructions on how to undertake the task
  • detail of relevant emergency procedures to be followed, and
  • detail of correct waste disposal procedures.

The use of photographs, tables, charts and diagrams with a SWP may be helpful in providing relevant information, however, should be used sparingly and only if easily understandable.

SWP’s are to be written in simple plain English, and be kept to 1 to 2 pages in length where possible.

All SWP’s must be displayed in a prominent place, preferably as close to the location of the machinery or task / activity being performed.

Guideline Information

Contact OfficerManager, Health & Safety
Date Approved27 November 2012
Approval Authority

Vice-President People and Services

Date of Commencement27 November 2012
Amendment History

27 March 2020 – Approval Authority updated to Vice-President People and Services in accordance with University Delegations of Authority.

9 August 2019 - Updated Approval Authority from Manager, Health and Safety to Vice-President, University Services and Strategy in accordance with responsibilities per Delegations of Authority Register.

Date for Next ReviewNovember 2015
Related Documents

Health & Safety Policy
Safe Work Procedure Risk Assessment Template under    ‘General Forms’

Work Health and Safety    Act (NSW) 2011
Work Health and    Safety Regulation (NSW) 2011
Keywords Safe work procedures; SWP’s
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