Safety Leadership from Management
You’ve heard it so many times. Safety must come from the top down. Why is this approach so important? Because management must set the priority for the workers. If production is valued more highly than safety, workers will take risks in order to satisfy production goals. If safety is on par with production, then a worker will feel secure in knowing that a decision made to increase safety, even though it might slow production, will be supported and won’t come up as a negative on a performance review. Look at it like this, if you have good safety, quality, and housekeeping the production efficiency will go up.
So how can management set safety as a priority?
- Put it in writing. A written policy that clearly communicates the company’s commitment to safety creates a consistent message that managers can share with anyone involved in the work or operations of the company, including subcontractors, visitors, suppliers, and customers.
- Define the goals of the program. Remember this acronym:
- Time bound
By creating SMART goals, and assigning accountability for each, you are ensuring that the program will be taken seriously, and achieve its intended purpose.
- Make resources available. It doesn’t make sense to set goals for the program if there are not resources allocated to it. Make sure there’s a budget for safety training and equipment. You’ll also need to identify the time required to implement and maintain the program, including worker resources.
- Create Accountability. It’s important to assign roles and responsibilities within the safety program. There should be one point person who is accountable for the overall coordination and tracking of the program’s goals and performance.
It is important to reward for success! Positive motivation is a powerful influencer, and that includes no retaliation for reporting health and safety issues. OSHA suggests providing positive recognition for meeting or exceeding safety and health goals aimed at preventing injury and illness (e.g., reporting close calls/near misses, attending training, conducting inspections). The focus should be on having open communication about safety and health improvements, with the understanding that there will always be room for improvement.
Employee Contribution and Participation
Employee input should be highly valued in a health and safety program. They are on the front lines, and may be able to identify hidden hazards that your safety person may not even realize are there. Since they are performing the task, they are the most familiar with all of the mechanics of the task.
Also, by placing great value on employee input, management is also reasserting their commitment to safety.
Prevent and Control Hazards
Depending on the size and complexity of your operation, this could be quite an undertaking. Train your employees to identify hazards and select controls, then encourage them to report hazards within the structure of the safety program. Together with dedicated safety personnel and management you can implement ways to avoid hazards and introduce controls. Make sure there is a mechanism in place to follow up on any strategies that have been implemented.
Safety training for workers, employers, supervisors and management should include training on the Health and Safety Program itself, the individual’s role within the program, and job specific safety training. There are over 100 OSHA standards that contain training requirements.
Additionally, it is important to track all completed training for each employee, and have regular updates.
Program Evaluation and Improvement
You should expect your health and safety program to be an ever-evolving living document and part of your business. As time goes on, operations change, workers come and go, and new safety technology develops. Plan for a mechanism to evaluate the efficacy of your program and implement changes where they are needed.
Evaluate the safety program reports to identify trends and problem areas, and areas of success. Lagging indicators include injury and illness data, workers compensation reports, and reported hazards. Leading indicators include, employee participation levels in program activities, employee-reported incidents, near-misses, and hazards, number of completed safety audits, and many more items you should be looking to measure. OSHA provides a fairly comprehensive summary here.
Communication and Coordination for Everyone on the Job
Your operation is not just the work of the employer and the employees. Subcontractors, staffing agencies, visitors, and suppliers, all need to receive effective safety communication with regard to your operation. Coordination and delivery of safety communication among anyone who comes into contact with your operation is an essential element to your health and safety program.
We see this quite often on construction sites when many subcontractors and trades are all working in the same space. Careful coordination of activities and safety information is key. We encourage all of our construction clients to host safety trainings for their subcontractors, so each organization is on the same page.
Give us a call If you would like us to write or review your Health and Safety plan @ (508) 525-5711