Saturday, February 23, 2013

Guest Blog: The 12 ‘I’s’ of Workplace Safety

While there are a variety of ingredients to creating a sustainable safety system, basic, fundamental ingredients are common to every successful safety system. The following 12 ingredients can contribute to the success and sustainability of a safety system for any organization.

  1. Invent or create the safety system specific to your organization. This is where the rubber meets the road. The “actions” of company leadership represent the only true measure of an organization’s commitment to safety and health. Develop a safety and health policy that states occupational health and safety is one of the company’s core values.
  2. Invest in the system to demonstrate genuine commitment. Safety is good business, and a company can actually save money by spending on safety. If an organization cannot afford safety, it cannot afford to be in business! Studies show that for every dollar invested in safety, $3 to $4 is saved.
  3. Integrate safety with other organizational core values such as production, quality, human resources, customer service, and finance and do not treat it is as an added activity. One is not more important than the other.
  4. Introduce employees to the safety management system during new-hire orientation. Start at the earliest stage possible by cultivating attitude and instilling health and safety values in employees. Set the tone right out of the gate on how safety is viewed in your organization.
  5. Involve employees in the safety system to establish trust because the only true way an organization can enhance health and safety is through partnerships. Simply put, safety cannot be managed effectively unless employees are directly involved in the day-to-day efforts to keep the facility or construction site safe. Real culture change in an organization comes when employees and management work together to create a safe working environment.
  6. Inform employees about the safety system by providing clear communication. Communication is not just words; the organization’s safety message is also expressed in the amount of resources it provides for health and safety, on how “visible” senior management is and how “engaged” management allows employees to be involved in the safety process.
  7. Instruct employees about the expectations of the safety system because knowledge is the foundation of a sound and sustainable safety system. Through proper safety training, employees must be able to demonstrate correctly the safe practices associated with their job before they have to work alone.
  8. Inspect the workplace regularly to seek out potential hazards and implement effective controls. All hazard findings must be corrected as soon as practically possible and should not be repeated on subsequent inspections. You must inspect what you expect!
  9. Investigate all accidents and near misses to determine the root cause, holding employees accountable. Accident investigation and analysis is an essential component of a safety management system. Most accidents are preventable and each one has a cause; once identified, they can be eliminated to prevent recurrences.
  10. Intervene whenever necessary with progressive discipline because people must follow established workplace safety procedures. Everyone in the organization must be accountable and have a clear understanding of the consequences for failing to perform their health and safety responsibilities. Discipline demonstrates your safety system has teeth! Accountability is one of the most critical components of a safety management system.
  11. Influence morale by providing a meaningful safety incentive program. This is the fun part of the safety system. When implemented correctly a safety incentive program will easily justify its cost through a reduction in many costs associated with injuries and accidents. Organizations should celebrate safety achievement and successes. 
  12. Indicators to measure the safety system’s success. Management needs to be able to measure success and keep score with tangible, measurable metrics. Effective management of the safety management system cannot occur without measurement. At a minimum, management should annually evaluate their health and safety system.
These twelve critical ingredients -- all starting with the letter “I,” provide an organized way of achieving safety excellence and help create an injury-free culture or climate. Strong management commitment to health and safety and meaningful employee participation are two essential ingredients of any successful safety management system.

Michael Miozza is the President of Health & Safety Solutions, Inc, a BBB Accredited Business since 2007.

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