This August 13 – 19, OSHA will celebrate its Safe + Sound Week, a nationwide event which raises awareness and understanding of the value of safety and health programs.
And it’s no small wonder why an entire week is dedicated to workplace safety: establishing a safety and health program is one of the most effective ways of protecting your most valuable asset, your employees.
When an employee is injured or ill – even for a short time – it causes significant losses to productivity and the bottom line, both to your business and the workers and their families. Further, injury and illness damage workplace morale, turnover, and reputation, which all prove costly, too.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so a safety and health program serves to foster a proactive approach to workplace hazards before they can cause any real damage, disruptions or losses – rather than reactively responding to an incident.
A proactive approach not only helps to build trust, but it also promotes and enhances communication.
The main goal of a safety and health program is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths, as well as the suffering and financial hardship these events can cause for workers, their families, and their employers. Further, according to OSHA, a cooperative commitment to safety and health between employers and employees has been linked to:
We get it: compliance, safety and health programs can seem daunting to say the least. There are seemingly countless hurdles, endless red tape and innumerable opportunities to fall short. But as with any undertaking, starting is often the most challenging obstacle.
The ten steps below outlined by OSHA will serve to help you establish the foundation of your safety and health program, which, over time, will help you develop a more robust and exhaustive program.
1. Prioritize. Make safety and health your top priority – and make sure your employees know this, too. An employee who feels supported and safe is a happy employee.
2. Lead. Be sure to practice what you preach by making safety part of your daily conversations and behaviors. Leading by example is the quickest and easiest way to put your program into practice.
3. Report. Develop a procedure for employees to report any injuries, illnesses, incidents – including close calls, hazards, or safety and health concerns without concern of retribution.
4. Train. We can’t stress this one enough: Train workers to identify and control hazards using OSHA’s Hazard Identification Training Tool.
5. Inspect. Work with employees to identify any activities, equipment, or materials that concern them. They’re your boots-on-the-ground and can prove to be an invaluable resource for preventing issues before they arise.
6. Survey. Ask your employees for ideas or suggestions on how to improve workplace safety and health conditions and provide them a time during work to research solutions.
7. Assign. Once employees have made their suggestions and offered their ideas, assign the task of selecting, implementing, and evaluating their solutions.
8. Identify. Identify prospective emergency situations and circumstances, and then develop guidelines for what to do for each. Communicate these procedures to your employees and post them in a prominent place.
9. Consult. Again, your employees are your first line of defense so before making significant changes to their workplace, equipment, or materials, consult with them to identify potential safety or health issues.
10. Improve. Make getting better an ongoing goal by regularly scheduling time to discuss safety and health issues and concerns, and ways to continually improve.
These recommended practices emphasize a proactive approach to workplace safety and health, and provide employers, employees, and employee representatives with a manageable, actionable approach to address safety and health issues benefitting your business today – and for years to come.
By: Vector Solutions