Tips and Tricks to Consider When Reviewing Your QHSE Manuals

Posted by Peter Rogers

Compliance professionals, admit it. Working from home has given you time to do those QHSE administration jobs that have been on the "backburner" for years.

One of those jobs is to review your QHSE manual.

This blog comes from an ongoing series that originated from "26 Ideas for Working from Home for Compliance Professionals".

A lot of us have inherited these QHSE manuals.

The manuals may have been worked on by multiple owners over many years.  They may appear to be disjointed.  There maybe bits of procedures added from one standard or new policies added due to a new regulation.

The table of contents maybe be really long with no real order or logic.

There maybe policies or procedures that have been added because an Auditor said it had to be added, and it may have been a good idea at the time. But that time has passed and they may now look out of place.

I'm sure that that no one has stepped back, looked at the standards, looked at your business and said "Do these manuals actually add value?"

So first things first, what is the purpose of these QHSE manuals? 

Office folder with inscription Instructions on Office Desktop with Office Supplies. Business Concept on Blurred Background. Toned Image.

Purpose of QHSE Manuals

Firstly you should be asking yourselves "what is the purpose for having these processes and procedures?". Otherwise your review is just a waste of time and will just become a 'tick and flick' exercise.

Question 1: Are they for the benefit of the:

  • Company - i.e. to meet customer's demand, meet legislation or regulations
  • Employee - i.e. share organisational knowledge 
  • Customers - i.e. provides level of assurance that the business is operating professionally

Question 2: Do they:

  • Inform
  • Teach
  • Educate

Question 3: Was it because we wanted to be able to demonstrate:

  • Compliance
  • That we understood the customers’ requirements
  • How to help to safely protect employees and the environment

Yes.  Of course it’s all of the above!!

Therefore, why don’t our manuals look or feel like that.

These points need to be critical to our review.

Simply put "if the policies or procedures don’t meet these questions with yes, then bin them".


If Not, Bin It

If there is no value, then bin it:

  • Are the QHSE Manuals being used as part of an employee training or at an induction? If not, bin it. 
  • Can you demonstrate or describe how the QHSE Manual is centric to the customer requirements, employee safety or the protection of the environment? If not, bin it.


Reduce Duplication

Further things you need to consider are:

  • Do the policies and procedures feel like they are being repeated or there is duplicated effort? Now there is an opportunity to integrate the documentation.
  • Think of the policy or procedure through the eyes of your audience. If they can’t understand the purpose of it, rewrite it or bin it.
  • The best test of all is if you were to remove every manual from your workplace how many days, weeks or months would it be until someone except the auditor asked "where it is?". 

This should be our motto: "Stop making our QHSE manuals wasted effort. Let's make our QHSE manuals invaluable to our business."



Manuals and their content should have more value than just getting certification.

They should be used in:

  • Training employees
  • Inductions
  • Improvements
  • Capture both the customer's and the employee's requirements
  • Be able to demonstrate in the audit that they have value, engagement and is used within the organisation.

Tags: QHSE Management, Integrated QHSE, 26 Ideas for Working from Home