ES&H Manual



3700 Safety Observation Program



1.0          Purpose


Jefferson Lab’s Safety Observation (SO) Program provides a process where managers, at all levels, regularly visit work areas; observe work practices and conditions; and discuss job safety with employees.  The framework of a SO helps to resolve safety issues and concerns, recognize and acknowledge safe work practices, and gain employee commitment to correct unsafe work practices.  This is all done in a non-threatening, collaborative manner.  The SO also provides for consideration of other safety issues beyond those specifically observed.


This SO Program is a key tool within Jefferson Lab’s Integrated Safety Management System (ISMS).  It is designed to enable effective sampling and measurement of safety data which leads to improvement in workplace safety.  SOs are a powerful tool for reducing injuries by recognizing and eliminating unsafe work practices.


NOTE:  SOs may be used as input for the Jefferson Lab Safety Incentive Program.


2.0          Responsibilities

NOTE:           Management authority may be delegated at the discretion of the responsible manager.


2.1            Director’s Safety Council :

·       Develops, implements, and continuously improves the SO process.

·       Reviews summary SO data for lessons learned.


2.2            All Levels of Management:

·       Receive and maintain SO Training (SAF100KD Safety Observation Procedure)

·       Conduct SOs in accordance with training. 

·       Review and analyze SO data regularly, in order to:

o   Monitor the safe behavior and performance of individuals under your authority.

o   Define appropriate action to correct deficiencies.

o   Monitor and ensure execution of follow-up actions.

o   Monitor the effectiveness of changes designed to reduce unsafe acts.

o   Monitor and ensure the integrity and quality of the SO Process.


2.3            ESH&Q – QA/CI Manager:

·       Provide summary SO data to the Director’s Safety Council.


2.4            Deputy Director – ESH&Q:

·       Provide SO Training when requested.


3.0          Philosophy


The basic philosophy behind the SO program is: Jefferson Lab management looks after its people.  The program provides for training, and support tools to ensure constructive dialog is achieve between managers and workers.  The goal is for everyone at Jefferson Lab to engage and commit to the improvement of personal and organizational safety.


SOs are a collaborative improvement process absent of blame or punishment.  To maintain employee support of the SO program as one of Jefferson Lab’s safety management tools, it is crucial that the SO be conducted and recognized as completely separate and apart from any disciplinary activities.  Although the observer’s name is included in the observation report, nothing is recorded that identifies the worker(s) observed.


4.0          Definitions


The SO program emphasizes unsafe acts (behaviors, practices) rather than unsafe conditions. 


·       Unsafe Act – is an action or inaction that creates, or fails to avoid, a hazard and therefore it has a greater than negligible probability to resulting in injury.  An unsafe act may or may not violate established safety rules, procedures, or common practice. 


·       Unsafe Condition – a hazard associated with facilities, tools, equipment or the general environment, which has a greater than negligible probability in resulting in an injury. 


This SO program assumes that a vast majority of unsafe conditions are the result of unsafe acts.  Bringing the condition to the attention of the person(s) who created, and accepted, the condition; and discussing ways to modify the behavior, helps prevent the unsafe act from occurring again.




Unsafe Condition: a tripping hazard along a walking path.  

It is easy to correct this unsafe condition.  Move the item.  But this does not prevent the condition from happening again.  Only by changing the behavior of the person who created, or accept it, can the conditions be eliminated and the potential for injury be avoided in the future. 


Unsafe Condition: Unsafe hazard during equipment operation. 

It is easy to ensure the hazard is appropriately labeled, but we need to take responsibility for correcting the deficiency and render the equipment safe.  Only by engaging the operator in constructive dialog in order to recognize the full extent of the hazard; and then bringing it to the attention of the designer can we obtain an adequate solution and avoid the unsafe condition in the future.


Sometimes the full extent of an unsafe act is difficult to recognize and address, we tend to use the ‘unsafe condition’ label for the problem and correct it, without eliminating the causes, and thus fail to ensure prevention.


5.0          Benefits


The benefits Jefferson Lab achieves through the use of this SO Program include:


·       Recognition and correction of unsafe acts and conditions before injury occurs.

·       Determination of the effectiveness of various safety management processes and improvement of them.

·       Reinforcement of safety standards across the organization.

·       Increasing employee awareness and motivation for safety

·       Creation of a commitment to resolve issues that arise because of unsafe acts and condition.


6.0          Program Elements


The process for conducting a SO is described in the ES&H Manual Chapter 3700 Appendix T1 Safety Observation Procedure.  This procedure addresses training requirements; planning; performing; follow-up; documentation; and review of data.


7.0          References


ISMS Program Description

ES&H Manual Chapter 3700 Appendix T1 Safety Observation Procedure

ES&H Manual Chapter 3700 Appendix T2 Safety Observation Report Procedure


8.0          Revision Summary


Reviewed – 09/29/11 – Reviewed by Technical Point-of-Contact, no substantive changes required.

Revision 0 – 11/19/08 – This is new content.











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ESH&Q Division

Bob May





This document is controlled as an on line file.  It may be printed but the print copy is not a controlled document.  It is the user’s responsibility to ensure that the document is the same revision as the current on line file.  This copy was printed on 9/29/2011.