Health and Safety
3 Things That Make a Work Safety Program Effective
Everyone agrees that safety in the workplace is an important concept, and one that benefits everyone concerned, including employees and employers. No employee wants to be hurt during the conduct of his/her normal duties at work, and no employer wants to incur the expense of a worker’s compensation claim. Clearly, different types of workplace will have varying needs in terms of how to bring it about but the cost of establishing a safe workplace is always far less than the cost of repairing damaged equipment and making good on employee claims for hospital and doctor bills (not to mention the indirect losses associated with people being away from work).
Bringing about and maintaining an effective safety program involves a number of common steps, the main ones of which are detailed below:
- Appoint a Health & Safety Officer. This person should be dedicated to this job if possible, with a prime focus on the key duties of this task, so that he/she can concentrate full time on the healthy workplace safety program you need to create. It should also ideally be someone who has had prior experience with a workplace safety program, because learning on the job may have its own risk. Short of this a part-time person is an alternative but make sure that the person you choose is experienced and has been well trained in occupational health and safety.
- Educate all leaders/managers about the safety program. All leaders at all levels needs to be on board with workplace safety as a priority, and must be aware of all federal and state regulations that apply and even penalties that could be rendered as a result of non-compliance with safety regulations. It is therefore important to make sure that all employees are made aware of regulations and of the internal risk mitigation rules that they are expected to adhere to. This can be one of the most critical aspects of establishing an effective safety program, because if managers don’t buy into safety, they won’t help to implement the program and monitor ongoing adherence.
- Implement regular and ongoing safety training. Although this will once again vary from one organization to the next depending on its type, it is important in all cases to develop a safety training program that is relevant and applicable. For example, if chemicals are used in manufacturing, training should include knowledge of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Similarly if heavy equipment is used at the workplace, safety training should include proper operation and observation of best safety practices on lifting or movement. Once general safety training has been put in place, a monthly meeting should ideally be held to review those practices as well as to discuss any safety concerns that have arisen. This also serves to keep safety uppermost in the minds of all employees and managers, and thus becomes part of the culture of the workplace.
Essentials of workplace safety
The real essentials of establishing safety in the workplace revolve around implementing a comprehensive culture of safety that everyone readily buys into. Whatever it takes to bring that about is what must be done in any given company. Some companies create very successful safety programs by offering incentives that help to motivate employees by rewarding safe acts, especially in non-monetary ways – for instance with gift cards, company products, and other prizes.
When company members are motivated to act safely, stay on the lookout for unsafe practices, and are trained to handle job situations in the safest manner possible, the desired culture of safety will help to ensure that accidents are avoided and that employees do not take unacceptable risks. The appointed Health & Safety Officer should be the person in charge of figuring out what will work best to achieve this culture in the company, and then carrying out the plan to get to that level of awareness. Ultimately, safety is everyone’s job in the workplace, but employees have to know that management fully supports the program and is committed to its success.