There is no such thing as a workplace that’s “too safe.” Striving for the highest possible safety performance sometimes seems like an impossible goal, yet it is achievable. The answer lies in creating a focused safety policy.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what a focused safety policy is, why you need focused safety policies, how your company benefits, your employees’ benefits, and what tools and resources you’ll need to put a focused safety program into place.
What Is a Focused Safety Program?
In the early 1980s, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration began approving worksites that had exhibited exemplary safety and health program management. These workplaces created a safety culture that prioritized safety and health as well as quality improvement. By the end of that decade, OSHA released recommendations on steps to take to protect health at the workplace.
At the core of focused safety program are systematic policies, procedures, and practices that protect employees from health hazards. A safety program must also teach employees to recognize what hazards exist at the workplace.
While a safety and health program is meant to bring a firm into compliance with OSHA standards and other regulations, that shouldn’t be its entire purpose. Rather, the goal of any safety and health program must be to maintain occupational safety and prevent any risk whatsoever to occupational health.
OSHA’s recommendations also state that “the extent to which the program is described in writing is less important than how effective it is in practice.” However, the larger your workplace grows, the more important it becomes to write down your safety and health plan so that all employees are aware of it and ensure its implementation.
What Are the Components of a Focused Safety Program?
What components absolutely must go into a focused safety and health program to make sure it’s successful? OSHA proposes four major elements that should be the bedrock of focused safety programs:
- Management commitment and employee involvement
- Workplace analysis
- Preventing and controlling hazards
- Safety and health training
Management Commitment and Employee Involvement
To safeguard the occupational health of your employees, management commitment and employee involvement are crucial. What does management commitment and employee involvement look like, though?
For a start, managers must develop a set of comprehensive safety and health policies to protect employees. Employees should be involved in this process; setting up a safety committee empowers employees to take the health of their workplace seriously. It’s also helpful to consult with safety professionals who understand not only what risks your organization faces, but how to perform a risk assessment that will take into account all of the threats employees face.
The safety committee (in conjunction with safety professionals) should establish goals for the safety and health program, such as reducing injuries, complying with regulations to reduce fines, or going a certain period of time without accidents). Setting goals serves as a yardstick: you can measure your progress based on safety performance indicators such as number of accidents.
Clear communication between management and employees is crucial – the health of your workplace is at stake. If it’s not clear who’s carrying out which role, chaos reigns and you’re putting employee health at risk. No one can afford that.
Moreover, it’s imperative to create a mechanism that guarantees accountability for management and employees alike. An accountability mechanism assures that a suggestion becomes reality. To make sure there’s follow-through, managers and employees must have access to the resources they need to get the job done. Those resources could be human (such as consultants), information (such as access to regulations), or technology (such as mobile applications that improve the success of safety and health program implementation).
To ensure the health and well being of employees, the workplace must be analyzed for risks. Risk assessment isn’t just about looking at existing hazards – it’s about examining the workplace for risks that could pop up in the future.
A good place to start is a baseline safety and health survey so you have a reference point for improvement. Second, you should periodically analyze health conditions to make sure you haven’t missed any hazards. And any time there’s a near-miss or an accident, investigate those incidents to understand the root of the problem.
When you analyze the trends of accidents and incidents that could endanger your employees’ health, you can understand what’s causing them, and better yet, how to prevent them. Also, make it easy for employees to notify Human Resources and managers about threats to workplace health; that empowers employees to make occupational health and safety a priority.
Preventing and Controlling Hazards
Workplace health hazards don’t have to cripple your operations. It might not be possible to eliminate every conceivable workplace threat; that being said, there are definitely ways to reduce the perils to employees’ health.
Workplace maintenance is crucial to preventing, or at least controlling, hazards – broken equipment is a significant cause of workplace injuries. Mandating that employees wear protective gear is another vital method of preventing or controlling risks. Workplace health practices should also include having a first aid kit onsite and strategies for obtaining emergency medical care as quickly as possible.
The importance of planning can’t be over-emphasized. Create strategies on how to deal with accidents quickly and effectively, so you’ll be prepared to deal with them when crises arise. Conduct training and emergency drills so they become an integral part of your workplace health promotion program.
Safety and Health Training
As we mentioned in the last paragraph, the implementation of safety and health training is essential to workplace health promotion strategies. Everyone, managers and employees play a role in ensuring the occupational health and safety of the organization.
Safety program training for managers will look different than that for employees. Managers are trained to recognize risks and mitigate them, to maintain occupational and health safety standards, and for the implementation of employee training. Training for employees is similar – employees learn how to identify hazards and prevent or control them.
How Does Your Company Benefit from Focused Safety Policies?
The implementation of focused safety policies has enormous benefits to your company. There are three immediate reasons why a workplace health promotion program makes sense (and cents) for your firm:
- Reduces fatal or traumatic injuries
- Protects your employees and assets
- Lowers workers’ compensation claims
Focused safety policies reduce fatal or traumatic injuries because they compel organizations to take a long, hard look at current workplace health practices, then amend them. The implementation of these policies either removes or severely decreases the presence of risks. It becomes safer for employees to come to work.
Additionally, focused safety policies protect your employees and assets. Specifically, these policies safeguard your assets because the implementation of such rules requires you to perform frequent maintenance and to identify hazards. Moreover, the implementation of technologies such as a fleet safety program helps your drivers avoid accidents, extending the life of your vehicles.
Furthermore, the implementation of a focused safety plan will lower your workers’ compensation claims. We’ll illustrate with an example: let’s say you put an app in place across your fleet that eliminates distracted driving. Drivers won’t get into accidents as a result of app notifications while they’re on the road, which means fewer injuries and a reduction in workers’ compensation claims.
How Do Your Employees Benefit from Focused Safety Policies?
Employees are the most evident beneficiaries from the implementation of focused safety policies. They feel safer, both physically and psychologically.
Workplaces with robust safety practices safeguard employees’ health. There are far fewer injuries, so employees can be productive and effective. They’ll miss fewer days due to injury, and you’ll have a healthier workforce.
The implementation of focused safety policies protect employees’ psychological mental health, too. How so? A workplace full of risks makes you feel uncomfortable, and when you’re uncomfortable, you can be unfocused and distracted. You’ll make more mistakes, which could lead to the very situation you want to avoid – an injury or even a fatality.
In contrast, a workplace that prioritizes safety and health makes employees feel more at ease. They’re not worried about risks; rather, they’re focused on their jobs. They’re more productive and managers will see a quality improvement in their work.
What Tools and Resources Do You Need for the Implementation of Focused Safety Policies?
With all of the information above in mind, the next step is determining which tools and resources you need for the implementation of focused safety policies. As mentioned earlier in the article, convening a safety committee made up of managers and employees encourages accountability as well as ownership of occupational health and safety issues.
Safety professionals are another excellent resource to ensure the successful implementation of your occupational health and safety program. These experts have the knowledge and experience to mold your focused safety policies into rules that will protect your company and your employees.
It’s also important to think about what safety and health issues could crop up in the near future. One issue that has become more and more serious is distracted driving. If you have a fleet of corporate vehicles, you can’t afford employees who aren’t fully focused on the road. In addition, workers who use heavy machinery need to pay close attention to what they’re doing – a second away from the equipment they’re using could result in tragedy.
The implementation of software that blocks app notifications from popping up while employees are driving or using heavy machinery is crucial. Such a solution protects employees and keeps them focused on their job, rather than on their cell phones. Your workplace becomes safer and healthier because employees won’t be putting themselves (or others) at risk with distracted driving or heavy machinery usage.
TRUCE Software offers a mobile app that lets decision makers set mobile device usage policies that work best for your organization. You decide what noise is delayed to protect the health and well-being of your employees, and your company overall. By implementing TRUCE Software, you’ll see fewer accidents and more productive workers.