Workplace accidents can happen anytime, regardless of the line of work (be it construction, retail, transportation, or finance). And the best approach to prevent workplace accidents is to implement a robust employee safety program. But remember, not all workplace safety programs are created the same. While some programs may fulfill just the minimum criteria, some may go above and beyond.
Due to increased workplace safety prerequisites, the number of workplace injuries has decreased over the past 15 years. Yet, even while workplace safety has improved over time, accidents can still occur and cost businesses exorbitantly.
Workplace illnesses and injuries reduce productivity and affect employee morale. They also cause more absences, which may ultimately result in decreased revenue.
Given the decline in workplace injuries, businesses may find it difficult to justify the expense of investing in employee safety training. Nevertheless, analyzing the numbers can affect long-term savings and provide more safety for employees.
As the management becomes more aware of the financial costs associated with workplace injuries, they will be convinced to increase spending on workplace health and safety programs. An effective safety program’s financial return on investment (ROI) can be seen in increased output, better customer service, cost savings from fewer accidents, and decreased workers’ compensation expenses.
What is a Workplace Safety Program?
A workplace safety program is created to give employees the skills and knowledge they need to carry out their duties and follow procedures in a way that is safe for them and their coworkers. Additionally, it contains detailed instructions and rules that will assist them in identifying, reporting, and managing workplace risks and incidents.
In a survey, where the employees were asked – which factors increase an employee’s likelihood of sticking with their current job, respondents ranked safety on par with pay.
Workplace safety programs are not only helpful in reducing the risk of injury to people, but they also work well to retain current employees and attract new ones.
Think about it, who would not want to work in a safe and healthy environment?
10 Steps to create an effective Workplace Safety Program
A workplace safety program provides long-term employee protection. Once the program has been designed, the workplace should implement it.
An employee safety program foresees, identifies, and eliminates circumstances or behaviors that could result in work-related accidents and illnesses.
Let us look at ten OSHA suggestions that can assist management in developing a successful workplace safety program.
1. Integrate safety and health as a core value
A business’s guiding principles determine how and why the business exists. OSHA advises incorporating workplace health and safety into the company’s core values. And the company’s commitment to employee safety can be communicated as one strategy to achieve this.
As a business, you must consider OSHA and particular state rules, the size of the business, operations and exposures, incident trend reviews and human resource capabilities before you devise your employee safety program. The company leadership should also formally record and support such an initiative.
2. Include safety in your daily routines
Nothing weakens a workplace safety program more than neglect, whether from inadequate leadership or ineffective procedures. Putting a workplace safety program in place from the front involves setting an example for others to follow.
As leaders of your organization, when you go about your daily activities and interactions with employees, you should keep workplace safety at the top of your mind.
The best course of action is to assign a specific individual the task of developing, implementing, and managing the workplace safety program. To perform the job, this person must be competent and experienced.
3. Identify possible hazards & dangers
Next, assess specific workplace hazards and dangers. In addition to acquiring a professional assessment, management should release a company-wide survey to provide staff a chance to voice their risk concerns anonymously. Employees can frequently shed light on potential concerns that are not immediately apparent.
Make sure to distinguish between environmental hazards (air quality/health risks), activity hazards (machinery-related), and workplace hazards (building design/layout) while conducting professional and employee evaluations.
4. Implement a simple reporting system
The foundation of your workplace safety program should be a simple reporting system.
Implement a system that allows employees to submit reports anonymously rather than requiring them to speak with a supervisor about an occurrence. Especially for near-miss accidents that frequently go unreported; doing this makes it possible for reporting to be seamless.
5. Provide training to your workers on safety
Like any other skill, workplace safety needs to be taught and practiced. Workers should receive training on how to recognize and manage hazards at work. Then, employees will be able to recognize and manage workplace hazards thanks to their knowledge.
Employees who have received training are more equipped to handle emergencies, report events and understand the significance of doing so, particularly in the case of near-misses.
6. Conduct regular worker-led inspections at your workplace
Worker-led inspections are beneficial in two ways. Workers first feel ownership and responsibility for maintaining safety. Having workers lead evaluations also fosters confidence that their perception of safety matters. Second, it provides managers with a real-world perspective on safety.
Using worker-led inspections serves as a natural filter for the best ideas because employees are most qualified to assess the usefulness of an idea. Employees will be more inspired to submit more ideas as they see their ideas come to life. This treatment will start a positive feedback loop that results in improved safety.
7. Address emergencies with a well-documented plan
Emergencies are inevitable. Even though it can be challenging to predict the exact nature of an emergency, you should have a strategy in place. Work with employees to identify potential emergencies and write detailed instructions on what to do in each case.
Make sure to prominently display the plan throughout your company so that your employees know what to do.
8. Review your employee safety program
Reviewing your employee safety program is an essential step. You should examine your training, policies, and written safety documents annually to identify gaps in your program and make necessary improvements.
It also pays to have a reliable auditing tool to examine every facet of your employee safety program and ensure that there are no issues or gaps.
9. Consult your workers before making any significant changes
The safety and health of the workforce may be impacted by changes to the work environment, including those made to the tools, procedures, or structural elements.
Always review any substantial changes with your employees so that everyone knows the potential effects on health and safety. Even though such changes can be inevitable, including your workforce allows them to understand and foresee potential problems.
10. Embrace and make continuous improvements
Your workplace safety program should be a dynamic system that adapts to changing workplace requirements. Make it a point to meet with employees regularly to discuss and update workplace safety regulations.
The most effective method to accomplish this is to set up each session as a safety meeting that encourages comments, suggestions, and criticisms that enhance employee health and safety.
Implementing your Workplace Safety Program
When implementing your workplace safety program, here are some factors to take into consideration:
1. Investing in Insurance
Investing in an insurance policy is a smart decision. But, do not expect much more from insurers than liability protection. Their objectives differ from yours. Therefore, they might not have the in-depth knowledge to give many of the services you would require in terms of training, noise surveys, engineering services, and industrial hygiene.
Therefore, do not get caught up in your program’s organizational structure or reporting lines. Within your company, it does not matter to whom one reports.
2. Creating a Safe Workplace
Every employer should make preventing accidents their top priority. How are they going to complete this seemingly impossible task? Ensuring employees use safety equipment is one easy way to prevent accidents. Still, there are also more challenging options, such as reorganizing job activities and responsibilities to be more ergonomically efficient.
3. Matching an employee’s physical capabilities to the job’s requirements
Do not put employees in circumstances they cannot handle due to physical limitations. Job descriptions and titles should be written and included in your operating procedures or policy manual.
The focus of a successful employee safety program may be on the employees, but leadership is equally important. Without leadership backing, none of the above steps will succeed. Using these resources can help you develop an efficient and long-lasting workplace safety program as a safety leader.
Additionally, it will help you engage your workforce, resulting in a concerted effort to eliminate workplace hazards and guarantee everyone’s safety.