Most business owners have implemented at least a rudimentary safety program to keep their employees safe at work. The Occupational Health and Safety Department (OSHA) in the United States has developed guidelines to help employers create internal safety systems. On paper, the program may work, but would it be effective in a true emergency? There are some key components you need to consider in order to develop an effective safety program.

Ensure Top Management’s Commitment to Workplace Safety

This may sound like a given, but it isn’t necessarily the case. If the CEO of your company isn’t fully committed to keeping employees safe above all else, your system won’t be effective. If workers see the boss embrace the safety system, however, it will inspire them to follow the necessary steps.

You’ll also require top management’s commitment to procure the capital needed to successfully implement the system. Without the proper funding, you won’t be able to meet the goals you’ve set.

Establish a Safety Team

Put a team together with representatives from each department or area. Set up a meeting schedule that works for the attendees and stick to it. If you have three production shifts, consider alternating the meetings so that you can accommodate the reps on those shifts. For example, set the meeting at 7 a.m. periodically so you can catch the 3rd shift reps before they head home. 

Your safety group, with the help of top management, can establish and implement a comprehensive safety system. Key items to address include:

  • Create a safety policy statement – One of the first ways to spread workplace safety awareness is to develop a safety policy. It can be added to the existing mission statement, but it should also be posted individually in prominent locations around the building on banners or signs. Create policy cards to hand out to employees as well.
  • Identify workplace hazards and risks – This is where it is especially important to include team members from all areas of the company since they can best identify the hazards and safety concerns in their work environment. You could also send out a company-wide survey asking employees about the hazards in their work area. You could make the survey anonymous if that would encourage people to respond. Compile and document each hazard and assign the safety measures required to mitigate the risks. Each accident that occurs in the plant, no matter how minor, must also be investigated thoroughly to determine what countermeasures need to be implemented.
  • Write procedures and work instructions – Once the hazards and countermeasures have been assessed, you can begin writing the procedures necessary to implement the plan. More detailed work instructions can also help in specific instances where the job function requires them. As you develop the written plans, get feedback from the employees whose jobs are affected to make sure you have a comprehensive plan.

Implement the Program and Train Employees

Training is the key to implementing a successful safety program. Employees must understand the importance of following established procedures and work instructions. It’s a good idea, especially at first, to post critical instructions at appropriate locations around the plant so that workers are continually reminded of proper protocol. 

You can also purchase many helpful safety signs and labels to make the job a little easier. Professional barricade signs and tapes, lockout tags and labels, belt tape barriers and mesh gate screens can be placed near prohibited areas to remind employees of potential dangers.

Evaluate the Effectiveness

Test the system frequently, especially at first, to ensure that it is effective. Develop a comprehensive audit plan that covers each area. Train internal auditors to know what to look for. Items to audit can include:

  • Employee awareness – Talk with workers on each shift to ensure they are aware of the goals of the safety program. Make sure they are following their procedures and work instructions as well.
  • Accuracy of current procedures and work instructions – Review the written plans to make sure they are accurate and current.
  • Effective follow up on all accidents – Make sure that every accident has been investigated thoroughly and corrective actions have been successfully implemented.

The safety of your employees should always be your number one priority. Implementing a comprehensive safety program will help you meet your goal.

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