Focusing on health and worksite safety is a win-win for both employees and employers. With the right procedures and steps put into place, organizations can reduce their worksite accidents significantly and go years at a time without an incident.
Small steps can lead a to big improvement in worksite safety.
So how do you start to make change in your safety culture and use it as a lever for operational and financial gain?
1. Start each operations or team meeting with a safety update.
Why? This sends the message to attendees that safety is a value at your company and employee safety is priority one. Things to include might be reviewing any near misses, accidents, or incidents and associated corrective actions; number of days without an injury or lost workday along with a thank you for continued focus on safety; and recent corrective actions from audits and inspections. You might also consider asking if anyone has any safety concerns to pass along to the safety committee.
2. Speaking of safety committee, establish one that takes on the day in and day out maintenance fixes for safety issues.
Oftentimes, safety issues require fixing something or ordering supplies. Management doesn’t need to be involved at this granular level so let the committee handle these issues with some simple guidelines on budget, time, and staff involvement in corrective actions. Agendas for the committee would include reviewing current safety issues involving maintenance fixes; safety equipment and PPE review and purchase; establishing or revising safety procedures; and reviewing results of recent inspections. Anything requiring a high budget allocation, requiring significant staff time like training or management approval would be passed up to a higher-level management meeting for discussion and engagement.
3. Integrate wellness into your worksite safety committee.
One of the principal cost drivers of workers’ compensation claims are medical expenses for the treatment of job-related injuries and illnesses. By addressing specific wellness and ergonomic challenges, employers can reduce their worker’s compensation claims, disability and absences. Read more here.
4. Move PPE close to the point of use and provide open access to PPE at all times.
Example – if you have a bench grinder onsite, keep a pair of safety glasses and a face shield next to the unit. Other examples include having a fully stocked spill kit near areas of chemical storage and ear plugs and safety glasses placed next to the door leading to an area where hearing protection and or eyewear is required.
5. Create an at-a-glance PPE matrix which outlines clearly all required PPE for all tasks.
Place your matrix in relevant areas where PPE is required. Clear communication leaves no room for doubt on what is expected.
6. Safety signage.
This is a great way to remind people of your safety values and culture is to post signs in relevant spaces like your training room and break rooms. This would be above and beyond safety signage for required signage for emergency exits or example. Having a company motto or slogan developed by employees is also a great way to solicit by in of safety values. Additionally, branded safety clothing can encourage these values.
7. Lead by example with safety rules.
Nothing erodes a safety culture faster than management not following protocol. For instance, imagine a member of management not wearing PPE while standing next to an employee wearing PPE. Practice “do what you say and say what you mean.” And, should you miss a beat, own it and start again.
8. Thank people for their safety compliance.
Whether it’s completing a permit required confined space permit, or fixing a trip hazard curled carpet square, thank people for working safely. Show appreciation for their attentiveness to safety along with their initiative to do the right thing. Yes, it might be part of the job, but we all enjoy being appreciated. Not only does this make people feel good, it reinforces good safety behavior and at the end of the day, that’s the number one goal of a safety program.
Your commitment to health and safety is crucial.
How you spend your time and money speaks to your values. By spending time and money on safety, safety initiatives, PPE, and equipment you are proving that you are committed to keeping your team safe and well.
Operations Manager – Syracuse