Successful companies come in different shapes and sizes and produce various products. One key differentiator between those that prosper and their competition is how they approach and prioritize worker safety.
Good companies, whether it’s the largest manufacturers in the world or smaller family-run operations, create a culture where policy and business decisions prioritize the safety of their employees. These are companies where OSHA regulations are exceeded, rather than met just enough to keep inspectors happy, and where employee welfare is top of mind.
Safety Culture Into Enforceable Policy
A safety culture starts at the top with thoughtful and consistent messaging from a company’s leaders. It’s on those leaders to lead by example and to display unwavering support of their commitment to the business’s safety culture. But culture is only one part of ensuring worker safety. Safety culture should be bolstered by strong policies and leadership buy-in. Companies need to translate that culture into an actionable and enforceable policy.
Every safety policy needs to address the real and present safety concerns of a company. In order to accomplish this, policy creation must be informed by risk assessment.
At its core, effective risk assessment is about hazard identification. It shouldn’t be seen as a regulatory burden, but a critical step in ensuring workers get home safe every day. But how do you conduct an effective risk assessment?
First, companies must develop a plan. Safetyculture.com gives several considerations for the planning process, including defining the scope of the assessment, determining what resources are necessary to complete the assessment, identifying the personnel involved and affected, as well as what laws and regulations need to be complied with.
Once a plan is in place, the assessment can begin. Conduct a comprehensive audit of business operations, leaving no stone unturned. Review past incidents and near-accidents to avoid repeat issues. Check equipment manuals to identify potential dangers they might pose. Consider worker behavior that would be unsafe in certain environments. For example, do they use mobile devices or other technology that could introduce distractions at the wrong time or place?
Once hazards and risk levels are identified, build specific safeguards into your safety policy to protect your employees. Remember, any hazard left unidentified is only more dangerous, so now is the time to be exhaustive.
Companies need to make sure safety training is mandatory for every employee. That means workers who will be stationed on shop floors or warehouses, but even desk-bound team members who don’t generally work in hazardous environments. The latter part is crucial because it helps build the safety mentality, and also keeps those employees safe if they do have to visit areas with machinery or other higher-risk implements.
Another thing to remember is that safety training must not be stagnant. Training must be ongoing, so it adapts to workplace changes and new safety standards. Thankfully organizations like OSHA offer training materials for tethered and deskless workers.
The best time to take safety seriously isn’t while an accident is happening or after, but before. Companies should never become complacent about accident prevention or safety, so the best way to become a zero accident organization is to have plans in place when the unexpected inevitably happens, in order to minimize impact. The work doesn’t stop there either, safety teams should constantly be iterating their safety procedures to further reduce risk.
Companies can take preventative measures by eliminating hazards such as leaks, slippery floors, unmarked dangerous zones and poorly lit areas. Companies can also name “safety ambassadors” to identify on-site hazards and ensure peers are following safety protocols. By doing this, companies are nominating a worker or group of workers to empower them to champion safety.
And don’t wait for the next accident to reconsider policies. Regular reviews and inspections should be a common practice. Whenever a new workflow or process is implemented, take the opportunity to consider how it will affect worker safety, and if/how policies should adapt.
Enforcing Safety Policies
The most well-thought-out safety policies are for naught if your company doesn’t have a way to enforce these rules. Employees will have a tough time breaking unsafe habits if they aren’t given a substitute for the habit or won’t face consequences for continuing hazardous practices. Since safety managers and business leaders can’t constantly monitor their employees, they should consider leaning into technology to help enforce policies and break bad habits.
Take, for instance, an extremely common but dangerous habit – distracted driving. Safety policies will likely prohibit the hands-on use of a mobile device behind the wheel, but the temptation to check a mobile device while driving might be too great for a policy or punishment to deter the behavior. In this case, the employer should ensure that their employee’s devices are equipped with the right technology to prevent those distractions, like TRUCE’s Contextual Mobility Management (CMM) solution, that can detect when they’re driving and then shut down tempting applications like social media, email, or messaging, and ensure your policy is enforced.
Creating a safety culture is critical for any company that values the well-being and success of its employees. Policy sets this culture into action with a set of easy-to-follow and enforceable rules that address workplace hazards and risks.
TRUCE Software is mitigating the risk of mobile device distractions while enabling mobility across the enterprise. Read our case study to learn how TRUCE helped Terminix reduce accidents and keep employees safe while lowering costs.