OK, you’re convinced. You need to develop a culture of safety in your company. Maybe your company has had an injury. Maybe OSHA is on your back. Or your Workers Comp company is providing incentives for safer workplaces. Or maybe you just believe that safety is the right thing to do (see the article in GPB’s July/August issue). But where do you start? How do you set up a safety program for your company? Below are some practical suggestions to guide you through the process.
No matter the size or scope of your business, the principles remain the same. The key is leadership from the top line management, managers, supervisors and especially the owners/ CEO. The old adage, “actions speak louder than words,” applies here and will save you a lot of money. Recently, I was working with an old established business that has survived in a tough industry domestically. The manager told me, “I start every meeting with a comment or discussion about safety.” Something as small as this can positively impact every element of your business. Of course, the key is that it comes from the heart. It’s crucial that the senior leaders or owners mean it to their very core.
The first step is to develop policies. Few of us love written stuff, especially policies. However, OSHA has its requirements— and one of them is to have written policies. By neglecting this you could be hit with a $7,000 penalty.
An example is having a written Hazard Communication policy. To develop your policy you can start out by identifying ten to fifteen required and “best practices” policies. Then have them developed to fit your company. Keep them simple and make sure they comply with the regulation. Examples might be: Safety Philosophy; Accident Investigation; Hazard Communication; Ladder Safety; Fall Protection; Excavation and Trenching; Modified Duty and Return to Work; Lockout/Tagout; Electrical Safety; Fire Prevention and Emergency Action Plan; Housekeeping, etc. A good place to start is the OSHA website (https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/compliance_assistance/sampleprograms. html).
Policies on a shelf are only good for gathering dust. Throughout your organization, you will need to establish opportunities for Safety Meetings. (Maybe even appoint someone in your company to be in charge of communicating your safety policies.) Then make sure that your Safety Meetings or Tool Box Talks track your written policies. By doing that, you will be compliant from a training perspective; i. e. keeping safety in front of your employees and supervisors; and following your own policies—which is always a good thing.
Training is an integral part of any safety program. It’s not only required by OSHA; moreover, it will help you and your employees start developing a culture of safety. The website www.OSHA.govis a great resource for training materials as well as the regulations. A part of OSHA’s commission is to provide training and training resources for employers. Other resources include your workers compensation insurance company and independent safety consultants/trainers.
And speaking of training, be sure to document your training. Make yourself aware of what OSHA requires. Then keep atten-