A good safety program starts with a total commitment to safety. Safety requires an investment of time and resources. Owners and managers must make the commitment first, but a successful safety program requires leading employees into feeling ownership of and commitment to the program. Otherwise it’s just more us vs them.
The most important basic elements of a strong safety program are outlined below:
- Management Leadership. Management, if it wants to achieve an acceptable level of safety, must first make a personal commitment to safety. This commitment is expressed as a management policy statement. Next, management must prepare work rules. Finally, management must actively participate in the safety program and must take the lead in keeping interest alive.
- Assignment of Authority. Supervisors and foremen provide personal leadership. They can interpret the company’s safety policy and rules and should actively support them. This sets an example for those responsible to them and shows that safety is as important as production, cost, and quality. Establishing a safety committee and involving supervisors and foremen is one method of assigning authority.
- Developing and Implementing Safety Policies and Work Rules. The safety policy should be brief, to the point, and define management’s philosophy. The work rules should outline specific safety procedures to be followed on the job and types of behavior that are prohibited. Employees should be charged with the responsibility of complying with the safety policy and rules.
- Employee Orientation and Training. Much of the effort put into a safety program should be directed towards educating workers about safe work practices and procedures. Orientation, the initial training of new employees, is done to familiarize them with the management safety policy and work rules. Additional training, such as specific safety procedures for operating machinery, should be provided to employees as required by their job.
- Hazard Abatement. Minimizing hazards in the workplace will greatly reduce the number of accidents and increase safety. Timetables for periodic inspections of all equipment and reviews of all work practices should be established and followed. Any unsafe conditions or practices should be documented and corrected as soon as possible. Both managers and employees should be encouraged to report any potential safety hazards. Safety procedures should be developed as new equipment is acquired.
- Commitment to Injured Workers. Owners and managers should remember that it is the work of their employees that allows them to operate. The needs of their injured workers should be a priority.
- Injury Statistics and Reports. Records should be kept of the first reports of injury and subsequent investigations. These records are helpful in analyzing accidents and their causes. An analysis can determine preventive measures which will help eliminate the major causes of accidents.
Above all, employees must know that management is serious about safety. Set a good example yourself. Start today by using these ideas and your own to develop a safety program for your operation.