The key word here is a proactive safety program, which means taking action and making safety a responsibility before an accident happens.
Doing so can improve your safety performance, and make it sustainable as time goes by.
Of the 3 million private industry illness and/or injury cases in 2013, over half of these were reported as serious. This means missed workdays and other restrictions were involved in the injury or illness.
From these metrics, a question is begging to be answered: “How many of these accidents or illnesses could have been prevented–and if so, in what way(s)?”
This article provides tips on how you create a proactive safety program in the workplace. Keep in mind that while companies and roles differ, approaching your safety program with multiple avenues can benefit you no matter what industry you’re in.
Be open to achieving safety, and you and your employees will reap the reward with avoided injuries, a positive outlook, and your bottom line.
Creating a Proactive Safety Program
To have a safe workplace, you must first imbue these habits into your supervisors and managers. This will spread your positive influence and safety priorities to your entire company. Don’t fall victim to what others businesses do–they fall short in properly reinforcing and instructing managers and supervisors, and don’t hold them accountable for enforcing safety.
A great place to begin is to examine your management team and see who needs to receive further training.
The following are some best practices to facilitate training your managers and supervisors for safety in your company:
- Make assuming responsibility a requirement for your top-level staff: Making your supervisors accountable for safety performance will prompt a trickle-down effect; this will establish the precedent that safety is both an expectation and a priority
- Implement safety training, if you haven’t already: There are many safety programs available through OSHA to help you implement safe practices for your business. If you partner with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), you are able to access a safety specialist team who can deliver resources tailored to your business and are simple to adopt
- Have safety workshops and classes available: Just like a football team, safety needs to be reinforced constantly–they’re not ready for the big game with just one or two practices. Don’t make this mistake of assuming safety training is ever “finished.” Having safety workshops and tips for illness prevention can assist your employees to perform better and safer at work. Worried this is too expensive to offer? It’s actually much more affordable than the average Workers’ Compensation claim in the event of a serious accident.
Prevention through safety programs is almost always more cost-effective than the cost of a claim. For instance, one accident that costs $1,500 in fees on the surface can actually amount to over $8,000 with these extraneous expenses:
- Loss of productivity: the aftereffects can have people sluggish, or unwilling to work that position
- Legal and/or OSHA fees
- Potential overtime costs for training another worker to fill the injured employee’s position
- Damaged tech or equipment
What’s your game plan for preventing injuries from happening, rather than waiting until it occurs?
Proactive Practices are Key
Being able to tell the difference between a proactive practice versus a reactive practice is integral for a rigorous and in-depth safety program.
Here’s an example scenario:
Gary is an employee on a construction site at a residential property setting an upper row of concrete blocks. Because it’s so high, Gary must use a scaffold that was previously set up by another employee the day before. A site supervisor checks on how Gary’s doing, and he notices the scaffolding is not set up properly. Since Gary is almost done, the supervisor decides to not say anything and lets him continue.
A few hours later, because it was set up incorrectly, a shift occurs in the scaffolding and Gary falls 4 feet. While the scaffolding shifted and collapsed, Gary also let go of his tools and hit Ralph in the head as he walked by to go out to lunch.
Notice how being proactive didn’t happen in this scenario. What could the supervisor have done to avoid Gary and Ralph getting injured?
- While Gary was attending new employee orientation and onboarding, he should have been told to review scaffolding prior to use (this is called a Job Hazard Analysis)
- When work began, the scaffolding needed to be examined and signed off that it was ready to be used. It’s not uncommon for equipment to shift or change overnight
- The supervisor on-site should have halted Gary’s work and fixed the scaffolding immediately and not let him continue until it was safe
- Ralph, even if leaving on his lunch break, should have been instructed and trained to always wear a hard hat on-site
These are just a few–the list goes on and on. From Safety Teams, daily toolbox talks, and more, there are many accountability systems that don’t have to be linked to admonishment. No matter the size of the hazardous condition or problem, a supervisor should always be encouraged to report them.
Due to the injuries, the site is now 2 employees short, which can easily put them behind the scheduled completion date. Not only that, but it will cost them more in labor and profit with the claim fees.
What to Take Away From This
By implementing a proactive safety program, you can avoid accidents, dropped morale, and costs associated with injuries. Do you know if your workplace passes the safety test?