Safe Work Procedures (SWPs) | Risk management | Incident reporting

Safe Work Procedures (SWPs)

Occupational health and safety regulations represent minimum requirements. In almost all cases, organisations will exceed these regulations with policies or procedures specific to the organisation, the work being done or the equipment used. 

We need rules and procedures to protect the health and safety of staff – but there are dangers in having too few or too many rules. Too few rules may be interpreted as a sign that health and safety are not important or that common sense is all that is required to achieve them. Too many rules may be seen as not treating staff as thinking adults and makes enforcement of all rules less likely. To help, we compiled some guidelines for establishing rules.

How to write a Safe Work Procedure (SWP)

Safe work procedures are the safest way of doing a job, job instruction, monitoring performance, and incident investigation.

Job safety analysis (JSA), also known as "job hazard analysis", is the first step in developing the correct procedure. In this analysis, each task of a specific job is examined to identify hazards and determine the safest way to do the job. Job safety analysis involves the following steps:

  1. Select the job.
  2. Break down the job into a sequence of steps.
  3. Identify the hazards using UCT's Risk assessment template, available for download on the OHSE manuals & templates.
  4. Define preventive measures.

The analysis should be conducted on all critical tasks or jobs as a first priority. Critical jobs include:

  • Those where frequent incidents and injuries occur.
  • Those where severe incidents and injuries occur.
  • Those with a potential for injuries.
  • New or modified jobs.
  • Infrequently performed jobs, such as maintenance.

Job safety analysis is generally carried out by observing a person doing the job. Health and safety representatives should participate in this process. The reason for the exercise must be clearly explained to the person, emphasising that the job, not the individual, is being studied. Another helpful approach in the analysis of infrequently performed or new jobs is group discussion.

Compliance with health and safety rules or procedures should be considered a condition of employment. Rules and procedures must be explained to new staff when they start work or if they are transferred to a new department. After a suitable interval, these staff should be briefed to ensure they understand the rules and procedures applicable to their work.

The UCT will establish procedures for dealing with repeat procedural violators; supervisors are responsible for correcting unsafe acts, such as a breach of rules or procedures, and they must be supported in this duty. 

Points to consider in establishing procedures on this issue are:

  • Ensure that staff are aware of the procedures.
  • Ensure that staff are not encouraged, coerced, or forced to disregard the rules or procedures by fellow staff.
  • All rules and procedures are to be followed.
  • All violations will be managed.
  • Action is taken promptly. The role of discipline is that of education, not punishment.

Click here to find UCT Standard Safe Work Procedures.

Risk management

UCT is responsible for identifying hazards in the workplace and assessing the associated risk. It may take the form of baseline risk assessments, issue-based risk assessments, or continuous risk assessments. Risk assessment templates are available for download on the OHSE manuals & templates.

At UCT, managers or heads of department should ensure that risk assessments are carried out. They should involve relevant staff and follow the basic steps:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Identify who might be harmed and how (potential impacts)
  3. Evaluate the risks and decide on control measures
  4. Record the chosen control measures and implement the plan
  5. Review the assessment and update where required


A hazard is a source of or exposure to danger that can cause injury, illness or death. Hazards are generally considered to be unsafe conditions or unsafe acts, but a more complex perspective is summarised below.

Unsafe conditions may cause or contribute to incidents happening in the workplace. Examples of unsafe conditions that could play a role in causing an accident include an untidy work area, overcrowded workspace, lack of protective clothing, poor ventilation or insufficient lighting. Faulty equipment or loose items, a slippery floor, moving machinery or the storage of hazardous substance. 

Unsafe acts can play a role in causing an accident. Examples include working without safety equipment or protective clothing or without correct skills or knowledge, doing unauthorised work, working in a dangerous area or on moving machinery, working with unsecured items or storing them in an unsafe place or way, and working in a rush, fooling around or taking chances.

Hazard categories include:

  • Physical hazards such as noise, vibrations, temperature, humidity, dust levels, electricity, lighting, radiation, working at heights, unguarded machinery, moving machinery parts, items that cause slipping or tripping, etc.
  • Chemical hazards such as gases, chemical dusts, liquids, fumes, mists, and vapours.
  • Biological hazards such as blood-borne infections, viruses, bacteria, fungi, insect bites, faeces, poisonous plants and animals.
  • Ergonomic hazards such as poorly adjusted workstations and chairs, poor posture, use of force, and repetitive actions.
  • Psycho-social hazards such as work pressure, job security, job satisfaction, management style, health issues, and personal stress.

Incident reporting

All incidents and accidents in line with one’s duties at UCT are to be reported immediately or as soon as possible to the OHSE representative and line manager.

All incidents should be logged with an Incident Report (Form HS002), available for download on the OHSE manuals & templates.

Incidents to be reported:

  • Injuries
  • Damage to equipment or property
  • Hazards
  • Unsafe conditions
  • Unsafe acts
  • Near Misses

When contacting Campus Protection Services (CPS) to report an incident, give the following information: 

  1. Your name
  2. Your location
  3. What happened
  4. Injuries involved
  5. Contact number

Campus Protection Services contact number: 080 650 2222