Accident prevention will be most effective when every employee values and takes responsibility for safe job performance. To get employees to work safely and participate in safety management, safety programs must do more than require compliance. They must incorporate cultural change and stress behavior adjustment.
A culture where all members of the organization actively manage workplace safety and health.
- Increased economic value for the organization
- Reduced workers' compensation costs
- Increased safety awareness
- Increased employee ownership for success
- Enhanced communication and trust
- Lasting change in the culture
On-the-job injuries and illnesses have an adverse effect on both public and employee relations. While a company's safety achievements often go unnoticed, a catastrophic accident may be remembered long after the incident.
You can strengthen employee relations by showing employees you sincerely care about them.
Employees feel better about their jobs and about themselves when they have a strong sense that the organization cares. By implementing managed approaches to accident prevention, an employer shows his or her employees that he or she does care. As a result, your work force may display improved morale, lower absenteeism and higher productivity.
Correcting unsafe conditions and complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations do not ensure success in accident prevention.
Workers must make decisions to perform their tasks safely. Those decisions are made hundreds of times daily. When the organization's work force truly believes safety is in its best interest, permanent performance improvements occur and safety becomes a core value and part of the organizational culture.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation has a 10-step guide to safety (available at www.ohiobwc.com). Here are some key points from the guide:
Visible senior management leadership within your organization promotes safety management as an organizational value.
Senior management, including the top executive on-site, must act as role models for how all employees should work to create a safe work environment. This includes taking active leadership and doing things like:
- Authorizing the necessary resources for accident prevention
- Discussing safety processes and improvements regularly during staff or employee meetings
- Ensuring management is held accountable for accident-prevention activities and for managing accident-prevention processes
- Annually assessing the success of the safety process by using surveys, personal interviews and/or behavior sampling
- Encouraging employees to take an active part in maintaining a safe workplace
Senior management will establish the importance of safety in all operations. Taking the safety and health lead, management helps in the campaign to reduce accident losses. The leadership, support and active commitment of the senior management team will encourage management and employees to make the safety and health system successful.
Senior management should take these actions to show active leadership in the safety and health processes:
- Issue a written safety policy as a core value of the organization and assign roles and responsibilities
- Establish both annual and long-term safety goals
- Include safety as an agenda item in all regularly scheduled business meetings
- Regularly review progress of the safety and health processes with supervisors and employees
- Accompany supervisors, safety team members or safety committee members during periodic departmental safety surveys
- Review and discuss all accident-investigation reports with the supervisor or foreman
- Present safety recognition awards to deserving employees
- Openly discuss safety issues with employees during periodic tours or meetings
- Participate as a student in employee safety training programs
- Participate in meetings with accident-prevention coordinators
To properly implement a safety program, you need both management and labor members on the safety team.
Labor/management safety and health teams facilitate dialogue on safety and health matters between management and nonmanagement employees. The safety involvement team handles problem solving and decision-making for safety and health issues confronting the company. Team composition includes management and direct labor employees in roughly equal numbers. Team members represent all areas of the company and participate as equals. Teams may be natural work groups, associated with a single-function area or cross-functional and represent a variety of work areas.
Objectives should include:
- Prepare and make available records of the safety and health issues and outcomes discussed during meetings
- Use recognized problem-solving techniques, like brainstorming, cause-and-effect diagrams, decision analysis, charting, etc., to reach effective solutions
- Review investigations of accidents and causes of incidents resulting in injury, illness or exposure to hazardous substances, and recommend specific action plans for prevention
- Recommend specific actions in response to employee safety suggestions
- Conduct surveys of the safety culture every 12 to 18 months
The team should meet regularly but not less than quarterly with the facilitator. The facilitator should be a member of the team who schedules the meeting, arranges for a meeting place and notifies members of the meeting. Rotate the facilitation role frequently and share responsibility for other team functions among team members.
Record the minutes of each meeting and distribute the minutes to all team members. Post a copy of the minutes on the company safety bulletin board.
Giving the safety team the responsibility to make decisions and the accountability for implementing solutions is important. Empower the team to be responsible for developing and implementing effective safety solutions.
Information courtesy Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Go to OhioBWC.com for the entire text of the 10-Step Business Plan for Safety.