As an employer, you are responsible for maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. A safety and health management system, or safety program, can help you focus your efforts on improving your work environment.
Whatever you call it, your plan describes what the people in your organization must do to prevent injuries and illnesses at your workplace.
Your organization will have its own unique system, reflecting your way of doing business, the hazards of your work, and how you manage the safety and health of your employees. If you manage a small business in a low-risk industry, your system may simply involve listening to your employees concerns and responding to them. However , a large business in a hazardous industry may have notebooks full of written policies and procedures and a full-time safety director.
What’s most important is that your system works for your organization. It’s up to you to decide how best to operate a safe and healthy workplace, and to put your plan into practice.
WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL SYSTEM?
A successful system will be part of your overall business operation, as important as the other things you do to succeed in business. Successful safety and health systems have the following in place.
- Managers committed to making the program work
- Employee involved in the program
- A system to identify and control hazards
- Compliance with safety and health regulations
- Training on safe work practices
- Mutual respect, caring, and open communication in a climate conducive to safety
- Continuous improvement
Take a look at your safety and health system: Some components may be strong; others may need to be strengthened. The following sections describe the key factors and give ideas about how to make them part of your program. Use them as a practical guide to adapt to your needs. Because small business often cannot afford in-house safety and health professionals, you may need help to set up your system.
1. Make a commitment
Put as much as energy into your commitment to safety and health as you put into any other important part of your business. Make sure to include workplace safety and health in your business plan and integrate it into all facets of the business.
- Write a policy that emphasizes the importance you place on workplace safety and health.
- Commit the resources (time, money, personnel) needed to protect your employees.
- Begin meetings with a safety topic.
- Encourage employee participation in safety and health.
- Let your employees know you expect them to follow safe work practices, and follow them yourself.
- Respond to all reports of unsafe or unhealthy conditions or work practices.
- If injuries or illnesses occur, make it your business to find out why.
- Go beyond the regulations; address a;; hazards, whether or not they are covered by laws.
2. Involve employees
In a safe and healthy workplace, employees have a stake in the success of the program- safety and healthy is everyone’s responsibility. For your program to succeed, actively encourage employee involvement. Hold people accountable and make sure every one does their part.
- Establish an active workplace safety and health committee.
- Make daily safety inspections part of some employees’ jobs.
- Keep employees informed about safety inspections, injury and illnesses statistics, and other safety related issues.
- Give everyone a meaningful activity that supports safety.
- Value employee input and feedback: Employees often know more about safety problems and solutions then managers do.
- Make sure employees help review and improve the program.
- Hold employees accountable: Include safety and health responsibilities in job descriptions, and make following safe work practices prat of performance evaluation. Set safety goals and hold everyone accountable. Discipline employees who behave in ways that could harm themselves or others. Establish a clear system for reporting hazards, injuries, illnesses, and close calls. Recognize employees who contribute to keeping the workplace safe and healthy.
3. Identify and control hazards
Before you can control hazards, you need to know what they are. These are some ways to identify safety and health hazards:
- Review records of accidents, injuries, illnesses, and close calls.
- Review health and safety logs, first aid logs, workers compensation reports, complaints, and close calls.
- Look for trends or common factors in: Kinds of injuries or illnesses. Parts of body. Time of days/shift. Location. Equipment. Protective equipment. Department.
- Survey employees.
- Review inspection reports from enforcement inspections, insurance surveys, or consultations.
- Learn the safety and health regulations that apply to your workplace.
- Inspect your workplace for safety and health problems, current and potential: Use checklists to locate dangerous conditions. Watch employees at work to spot unsafe work practices. Perform a job hazard analysis. Conduct air and noise sampling where exposures exist.
Once you know the hazards, decide how to control them:
- Prioritize the hazards you found: Which are most likely to cause serious injury or illness? Which can you fix immediately? Do you have make long-term plans to correct some of the hazards?
- Make a plan to correcting the hazards: Conduct a job hazard analysis to identify how best to correct the hazards. Find out best practices from companies in your industry.
- Correct the hazards: Engineering controls eliminate the hazards through safe tools, facilities, and equipment. These are the best controls. Administrative controls don’t remove the hazards, they reduce exposure by changing the work practices, such as rotating workers, rest breaks, and training programs. Personal protective equipment(e.g. gloves or safety shoes) puts a barrier between the employee and the hazard. If you use personal protective equipment, you have to assess the hazard beforehand and train employees the right way to use it.
- Evaluate the changes to ensure they have corrected the problem and not created other hazards. And periodically re-survey the work environment and work practices.
4. Comply with regulations
Identify the regulations that apply in your workplace and comply with them:
- Develop required programs.
- Maintain a safety and health log if required for your business.
5. Train Employees
Train personnel about the hazards they may be exposed to at work and how to protect themselves. Keep records of all training. Provide:
- General safety orientation for new employees and employees starting new jobs, including company safety and emergency procedures.
- Specific training on the hazards of their jobs and how to do their jobs safety. Many safety and health standards include specific training requirements.
- Retraining: as required by the standards. When jobs change. When employees return from long absences. As needed to ensure employees know how to do their jobs safety.
6. Support a culture of safety
Workers hold safety as a value, they actively care about themselves and others. Mutual respect is the norm.
- Establish effective two-way communication. Respond to the needs and concerns of workers.
- Make sure management goes beyond the regulations to ensure a safe workplace.
- Encourage workers to go beyond the call of duty to ensure a safe workplace.
- Support a work environment that fosters trust, creativity, and general well-being.
- Celebrate your success with recognition programs.
7. Continually improve your system
Review your program’s strengths and weaknesses. Does it accurately reflect how you want to manage safety and health?
- Review annually and as needed.
- Investigate accidents, injuries, illnesses, and close calls as they occur.
- Conduct frequent (daily, weekly as needed) inspections of specifics equipment and processes.
- Evaluate your injury and illness statistics.
- Document all your safety efforts.
- Review new and changed processes. materials, facilities, and equipment for hazards (change analysis).
- Ensure hazard correction systems are in place and working.
- Evaluate effectiveness of training.
- Listen to your staff: Do employees know the hazards of their jobs and how to work safety? Are managers enforcing safe work practices and praising safe behaviour?