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Effective Safety Planning Part 2: The Four-Point Plan

Posted on 21 October 2015 by cradmin

Every day in the United States, 17 workers are killed in occupational accidents, 137 succumb to fatal, job-related medical conditions and more than 17,000 suffer from injuries sustained while working. Aggregating the losses for the year, the cost to the U.S. economy is more than $170 billion. Chances are that your business has experienced a bit of these losses, but they can be reduced to a bare minimum by establishing a four-point safety plan as recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Last month, we took a look at the ultimate goal of safety planning, which is establishing a culture of safety in the workplace. It is generally regarded that maintaining a strong safety culture is the most effective way of reducing worker injuries and fatalities. However, developing a culture of safety is more easily accomplished by following the OSHA-recommended Four-Point Safety Program:

  1. Commitment from management and employee involvement
  2. Full worksite analysis
  3. Hazard abatement, prevention and control
  4. Safety training for managers, supervisors and employees

Commitment from Management

The first step in the establishment of an effective safety plan is to obtain a commitment from everyone in the company, starting at the top. As an owner or manager of the business, when you take a genuine interest in the safety and health of your employees, you employees will be more likely to reflect your sentiment. You must create a clear and uncompromising safety plan that covers everyone equally with no exceptions, and you must actively enforce it at all times.

Business owners and managers must demonstrate leadership in keeping a safe workplace by providing training, resources and motivation and by holding everyone accountable for safety, including themselves. A written plan starts with training management to be effective safety leaders.

The best way to create safety leaders is to elevate safety above everything else. Safety should not merely be another duty that must be accomplished. Rather, it should be among the company’s chief values or part of the mission statement. Safety and health should be an overriding concern that plays into every situation every day of the week.

Benefits of Management Safety Leadership

Effective safety leaders can make a huge difference in a business. Management leadership can increase productivity, cut costs and improve morale in the workplace. OSHA has found that companies enrolling in one of its Voluntary Protection Program’s (VPPs) report a decrease in lost workday cases by up to 80 percent. In addition, studies show that for every dollar saved on direct medical expenses or insurance compensation, up to $50 are saved on indirect expenses, which may include hiring and training new workers, delays in production, equipment repair and much more. A prime example of the benefits of a proactive safety program comes from a major Ford factory that experienced a 13 percent increase in productivity and a 16 percent decrease in wasted materials.

Actions of Effective Safety Leaders

When managers are committed to workplace safety, they will take many of the following actions:

  • Post the company’s official safety policy near the required OSHA Workplace Poster so that it is easy to find and read.
  • Hold employee meetings concerning safety and health issue, goals and procedures.
  • Visibly and explicitly show support and personal involvement in the company safety plan, such as reviewing reports and conducting follow-ups when accidents occur.
  • Personally follow all laws and safety rules that pertain to employees.
  • Immediately halt hazardous activities or activities held in unsafe conditions.
  • Encourage all employees to become involved in workplace safety, especially those who have specialized knowledge.
  • Assign specific safety responsibilities to employees as outlined in the safety plan. Try to disburse duties in the same way that you would assign production duties.
  • Provide the people, time and training necessary to ensure all responsibilities can be carried out.
  • Make everyone accountable for the responsibilities that have been assigned to them.
  • Ensure that all responsibilities are covered and completed adequately.
  • Review safety accomplishments and accidents at regular meetings held at intervals of no greater than one year.

Employee Involvement Is Crucial

One of the top reasons for making your managers effective safety leaders is to encourage employee involvement in your workplace safety and health program. The best way to reduce health and safety issues is to share responsibility for them with everyone. In this way, you can tap the unique knowledge and resources that your employees provide. In addition, employees will have greater interest in and appreciation of the company safety plan the more involved they are in establishing and maintaining it, and they will be less likely to engage in unsafe activities that can affect your bottom line.

Following are just a few of the advantages of getting employees involved in workplace safety:

  • Employees will hold a vested interest in their own safety and their duties in keeping a safe workplace.
  • Group decisions are more likely to be followed.
  • Employees are more apt to support programs that they have helped create or maintain, and without employee buy-in, safety will be compromised.
  • Employees who are encouraged to share ideas and expertise are generally more satisfied and productive than those who are told to keep quiet.
  • The more involved employees are with the safety plan, the more they will learn about how to avoid injuries and dangerous situations.

Employees can be encouraged to participate in workplace safety in several ways:

  • Become members of safety committees
  • Conduct onsite safety inspections
  • Analyze workplace hazards
  • Develop safety rules
  • Participate in accident investigations
  • Become safety observers, safety coaches or safety trainers
  • Report hazards
  • Provide ideas for reducing or eliminating hazards

Be on the lookout for next month’s Health & Safety Watch where we will continue our theme with Effective Safety Planning Part 3: Workplace Hazard Assessment.

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