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Making your OH&S user friendly

As an organization you have written and published a Health and Safety Policy Procedure Manual for your employees’ reference.  In the front of the manual you have included a Table of Contents to assist users locating the information they are looking for.  But have you considered an Index which is more user friendly than a Table of Contents.  What is the difference?

Table of Contents vs an index

Table of Contents is located in the front of the book or manual.  It lists the chapters or sections in the order that they appear in the book along with the page number.

An example is in the Table of Contents the section on Personal Protective Equipment may appear on page 40.  The entry may look like this

Personal Protective Equipment …………………………………………………….. 40

An index is located in the back of the book listing important terms and pronouns alphabetically along with page or section numbers.

An index will note the page or section every time Personal Protective Equipment is noted in the book.  The entry may look like this

Personal Protective Equipment

Ear plugs see Hearing Protection

Failure to wear PPE 40

See Disciplinary Policy 10

Foot protection 25, 40

Head protection 28, 41

Hearing protection 2, 30, 40

Maintenance of 45


Having an Index in the back of a printed or electronic manual will make your OH&S Manual more user friendly.  The user can look in the back under the specific piece of PPE they are inquiring about and see every place reference is made to the PPE, including how to maintain their PPE.

Having an Index in the back will assist the employee in finding the information they are looking for.  Employee time is precious and most want to just find quickly what they are looking for and then get back to work.  When an employee can look up in the index exactly what they want to know it reduces frustrations.  If the information is not easily obtained the employee will give up and not wish to look at the manual again.  When the information is easily obtained it will encourage the employee to continue to reference the manual when they have an inquiry.

Consider increasing the user friendliness of your OH&S Manual, increase user interaction with the manual and provide employees an opportunity to own their safety but putting an index in the back of your manual.

If you need assistance in developing the index for your corporate OH&S Manual please contact Betts Passmore at Erco Safety –

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