A safe system of work is a formal procedure (usually written) resulting from an examination of any workplace activity in order to identify its hazards and assess its risks. This exercise culminates in the identification of safe methods of work as a control measure to ensure that the residual risks — those which cannot be eliminated — are minimised.

Safe systems of work are, therefore, derived from the risk assessment process. Whether a safe system of work is an appropriate control measure depends on the outcome of the risk assessment process and consideration of the “principles of protection” as detailed in schedule 1 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

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