Safety is all about the people
 March 26, 2013

There's a great deal of emphasis placed on safety systems, procedures, protocols and practices. Employers often purchase "compliant" safety programs that they can adapt for their specific industry. But, what makes a safety program successful is not procedures, it‟s the organization's total commitment to safety. This includes management, line supervisors and employees.

Generally there are eight fundamental elements to a safety program:

    1. Management leadership
    2. Accountability, responsibilityand authority
    3. Employee participation
    4. Hazard assessment and control
    5. Employee training
    6. Accident reporting and investigation
    7. Post injury loss management
    8. Evaluation of the program'seffectiveness
The success of the safety program is driven from the top and measured at the bottom. By that I mean management must establish the safety culture and make it foundational to the organization's overall objectives.

The results typically measured at the bottom include metrics such as the number of workplace injuries, the number of lost days from work and total cost of loss.

A very common question is how can management immediately demonstrate their commitment toworkplace safety? How about putting it in writing? Establish a written safety policy that is signed by the organization's CEO. Committing your safety policies to writing and sharing them with the workforce makes the program concrete and not arbitrary. Many safety oriented organizations have detailed safety policies that also include objectives and goals, as well as, a resource commitment to safety.

But, if your safety program is to succeed, every employee must participate. There are several ways the organization‟s staff can participate in the safety program including establishing the initial program, assisting in the implementation of that program and even evaluating the program's success or need for modification. Having employees participate on a safety committee is a greatopportunity to tap into a knowledge source regarding the operation that has a vested interest in safety. In some states these committees are mandated by law, but even if there is no such regulatory requirement safety committees can be a vital part of any safety program. The committee should have a charter and be recognized by the organization's top management as being important in the organizations overall priorities.

Many organizations involve employees in safety inspections because they often have a unique understanding of the manufacturing process since they work at it day in and day out. They‟ll know the stress and pinch points and often will suggest modifications that reduce the chance of injury and improve productivity.

Finally, your safety culture must include a commitment to regular communication between management and employees covering workplace safety and health issues. This can be part of a monthly meeting or through an intercompany newsletter. Management should never discourage participation by employees in the safety program and they should encourage reporting unsafe conditions and actions directly and honestly.

There are two words that characterize a successful safety program, "demonstrated commitment ". Organizations that achieve their safety goals and objectives tend to have everyone "rowing in the same direction". The benefits are reduced costs, a better competitive position and compliance with regulatory requirements. Committing to safety just makes business sense.


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