Building and maintaining a safe workplace should be an ongoing process for all employers, not simply a list of things that can be checked off once and forgotten. Because safety is a serious matter of life or death, fostering a successful, proactive safety culture requires the utmost commitment and dedication from every member within an organization.
Since OSHA regulations change constantly, it is important to evaluate your company’s safety protocols. As we welcome the new year, now is the time to determine how you can effectively assess your safety plan to ensure a happy, injury-free workplace for your workers.
1. Start at the top
A safety mindset is led by example. This means executives and managers in an organization must be the first to receive necessary training and actively demonstrate their roles to encourage a positive safety culture. They should be willing to take initiative, know what to do if certain accidents occur, and effectively resolve conflicts on-site.
Monitoring workplace safety should start at the top of the ladder to make sure everyone — regardless of their rank — is fully aware of any changes in the safety plan. When top executives are serious about safety and really show it, employees will follow suit. This also helps create fluidity and transparency within an organization.
2. Recognize successes
Safety at the workplace cannot be established unless every individual feels a sense of accountability and entitlement for their own well-being. Indeed, being responsible for one’s actions is a fundamental component in implementing a positive safety culture. Otherwise, people will always find reasons to skimp on standard safety practices. It is easier and more tempting to take shortcuts due to time and cost savings.
When examining the effectiveness of your safety protocols, it is essential to find out which safety goals are met and which are not. Are those goals reasonable and attainable? Look at management performance reviews — this will help you identify all-star employees who have met or exceeded organizational goals.
3. Review historical records as frequently as possible
Keep historical records of everything that happens in your facility and review them at least annually.
Establish a systematic method for reporting and monitoring regular day-to-day activities at the worksite. This way, all responses to workplace violence, inappropriate use of equipment, potential hazards, trips, slips and falls are recorded. In return, during the evaluation process, you can make sure every issue was covered and addressed properly.
When reinstating, resigning or hiring on previously approved subcontractors, employers should also look beyond the written history of the workers’ basic qualifications, experience and financial cost to the company. This translates into careful assessment of safety history and performance as well as how workers incorporate safety rules into their everyday operations.
4. Evaluate each project phase
A project can take months — even years — to complete. It would be a big mistake to wait until the end of a project to evaluate its safety as you will likely end up with a chunk of information that is difficult to organize and analyze. You may also risk violating OSHA regulations — be it failure to address potential dangerous exposures or a lack of safety equipment.
As we have mentioned above, safety done right should be a relentless process of analyzing, evaluating and implementing changes. Monitoring busy, hectic projects will be a lot less painful if you learn to break things into small steps. This way, you can stay on top of everything happening at your worksite or facility.
For instance, when an appropriate fall restraint system is inspected, ready to use and visible on the worksite, you know your workers will be less likely to take chances on using inadequate equipment that can endanger their lives.
5. Examine accidents and close calls
In the event of an accident, make sure you can identify the root causes and take corrective action to help prevent future incidents. This goes hand-in-hand with the practice of recordkeeping — an important step in reducing the occurrence of serious injuries. At the same time, avoid focusing solely on major accidents while overlooking lesser ones.
It is important to give equal attention to near misses that can potentially lead to injuries. According to OSHA, a “near miss” is defined as an incident in which no negative effects actually took place, yet the incident presents the possibility of injury or property damage if given a slight shift in time or position. Information gathered from those close calls is valuable in defining specific training goals as well as identifying operational changes and strategic actions.
Set up regular accident review meetings. This helps managers and executives to understand not only the financial implications that follow the accidents, but also the impact on the company’s reputation.
6. Seek advice from risk management experts
A thorough evaluation of your safety protocols should involve professional advice. Your company insurer and risk management experts are valuable resources to help you get closer to your safety goals. They have worked with various businesses in different industries and have dealt with a wide range of issues from all walks of life. They can identify certain problems that may be overlooked at your facility. They can also offer a fresh perspective and great insights gained from their extensive experience.
Successful businesses are not defined solely based on their financial prosperity. Rather, it is their commitment to maintaining a safety mindset that inspires and drives their employees as well as attracts customers and potential partners to work with their company. By implementing careful evaluation protocols, it is undoubtedly within your reach to turn your worksite into a happy, injury-free environment.
This article was written and originally published by Dakota Safety.