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What is the difference between the HSE manual and the HSE plan?

Hse manual hse plan difference photo

A health and safety professional must have come across these documents (HSE plan and HSE manual) in their delivery. The acronym HSE means health, safety and environment. 

In some places, the two documents are often used interchangeably against the other, though there are a lot of differences between them. So, it’s good we know when to use each other against the other.

HSE(Health safety and environment )MANUAL

The HSE manual is a document showing how the management plans to run its health and safety management system. The manual provides a detailed framework for an HSE management system in that establishment. The HSE Manual can be SHE Manual or the EHS Manual.  

The HSE manual will reveal everything concerning health and safety in any establishment. It’s just like the bedrock of all other documents relating to safety in that firm.

The HSE manual will reference other health and safety documents such as hse plans, safe work procedures, hse policy and allied policies, risk assessment and method statements, Job safety analysis, forms and checklists. However, it may not have them as a document inside the hse manual. 


A typical hse manual can have the following topics.

  • Introduction
  • leadership and commitment
  • HSE policy and objectives
  • Organization, responsibilities and authorities
  • Competence, training and awareness
  • HSE planning.
  • HSE risk management 
  • Emergency preparedness and response.
  • Legal and other requirements
  • Implementation and Operation- Communication, participation and consultation.
  • Documentation and control of documents.
  • Operational control. 
  • HSE inspection.
  • Incident investigation.
  • HSE audit.
  • Non-conformity, corrective and preventive action.


HSE plan is a project-specific, job-specific, process or product-specific document that gives you a detailed plan on how to manage hse for that project. It can be called the Ehs plan or SHE plans. 

For example, if there is to be a construction of a 2-storey building in a particular area. The company will create a hse plan specific to that particular project. The HSE plan for a two-storey building in a swampy environment will not be the same as that of a bungalow building in a dry area. 

The HSE plan can contain other supporting documents like the forms, safety checklist and templates for reporting, inspection and auditing. HSE policies can as well be attached to the plan. 


A typical HSE plan contains the following 

  • Introduction.
  • Scope of the project
  • Responsible persons and their signature 
  • Definitions of responsibilities
  • Responsible persons managing health safety and the environment
  • Minimum operational requirement.
  • HSE organization.
  • Project contact persons.
  • Hazard communication program.
  • General housekeeping.
  • Accident/ incident investigation.
  • Site rules.
  • Safety recognition and award.
  • Emergency response procedure.
  • Health and safety audit, monitoring and reporting.
  • Traffic control.
  • Waste management.
  • Drugs and alcohol control.
  • Security and access control.
  • Permit to a work requirement.
  • Management review.


  • The management is responsible for producing the documents and monitoring their use at work.
  • Both documents serve as requirements to control health and safety risks during the commencement of a construction project.
  • They serve as a means of showing effective control of work activities in a workplace. 
  • It also demonstrates the commitment of the management toward health and safety. 

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