Management wants a health and safety plan that will work for the benefit of all. Employees want to work in a safe environment and know that their employer cares about their health and safety. This must be accomplished in several ongoing steps. To make any health and safety plan work, everyone must contribute to it and take it seriously. So let’s get started. If you already have a safety plan in place, these steps will be a good benchmark to use in evaluating the effectiveness of that plan.
STEP 1: LEADERSHIP COMMITMENT
Management must commit to the concept of a safety plan. This can be done by signing a written statement of commitment to a safe and healthy work environment for all. The responsibility for developing a plan, implementing it, and monitoring its progress should be assigned to one individual. This individual should have the ability to bring together a taskforce committee or team to help develop the plan. If the team is made up of a cross-section of people from various departments, the rest of the employees will more readily accept whatever decisions are made.
STEP 2: ANALYSIS
The team should look at the company’s track record, assess every area of the business and come back with recommendations. A review of past injuries, illnesses and accidents will provide a starting point for the analysis. If each department is represented, the individual team members can enlist their co-workers to identify potential or established problems. This expands the sphere of influence. It may be helpful to call in a safety professional to identify hazards that may not be immediately obvious to employees.
STEP 3: EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT
Develop a plan for correcting problems so that accidents will not happen in the future.
If appropriate, conduct education and training programs for employees.
Hold periodic meetings with employees to review and reiterate the need for safety.
Keep accurate records of what has occurred and what has been done to correct problems.
Let the employees know on a routine basis how successful the program has been in promoting a safe environment.
Look for opportunities to promote competition among departments for the best safety record, or give awards and recognition for innovative ideas that help create a healthier or safer environment.
STEP 4: RECORD KEEPING
Record keeping is a critical component of every health and safety program. The injury and illness records must be updated regularly, using the OSHA 300 form. In addition, the organization must keep records on training, self-inspections, safety meetings and status reports on corrective actions. A responsible person should be identified to keep each type of record.
STEP 5: INSPECTIONS AND AUDITS
An ongoing audit and inspection program is necessary to remove hazards before they cause accidents. This segment of the health and safety program should include a focus person to ensure the audits are being conducted, provide audit tools to employees and determine how corrective action will be completed and documented.
STEP 6: ACCIDENT REPORTS
Any time there is an accident, even a minor one, an investigation should occur immediately to find out what happened and why. Determining the root cause may be useful in correcting similar situations in the workplace and should be factored into future safety programs and education. The organization needs to identify what types of accidents will be investigated, by whom, and the process for corrective actions. This should be available in written format.
STEP 7: PROGRAM REVIEW
Regular inspections and reviews are needed to make certain that the company is on track with its health and safety program. Revise the program as necessary. Keeping everyone involved in promoting a safe and healthy work environment will promote a better working environment in other ways, including higher employee morale, increased productivity, and improved communication between management and employees.