Safety 101: Simple Steps to Starting a Workplace Safety Program
Do you have a new business? Are you starting a safety program? Is safety management a new duty for you? If any of these scenarios apply to you, then starting a safety program can seem very intimidating. And it’s true, a complete program will be multifaceted and take time to develop. But investing in safety can have a big payoff – safety pays. Some of the most important elements are very achievable immediately. Here are some key steps to help you get off to a good start:
- Start a Safety Committee
- Perform a risk assessment
A good safety committee is the heart of the safety program. It involves employees at all levels, helps identify risks (especially hidden ones) and generates good ideas to promote safety. Having a safety committee in place also helps ensure that safety really is a priority and that, together, you complete action items.
Start by looking carefully at the safety risks in your business. You can check out our Risk Assessment video for tips to do this. And ask your employees to weigh in with what they experience daily. This will help you know where to focus your time and energy. You can also look for insights in your current documentation:
- History of accidents – your workers’ compensation Loss Experience Report or Loss Run.
- Safety Committee discussion and brainstorming.
- Input from workers doing the jobs. New and experienced workers will have different perspectives.
- Job Safety Analysis: This is a structured tool to analyze risks of a specific job or task.
Once you have identified your risks and hazards, the next step is to make tasks safer to perform. You may be surprised by how many improvements are self-evident and easily within reach. You can also use a more formal approach with the Hierarchy of Controls, which offers a systematic way to reduce risks by eliminating them altogether or safeguarding employees who face them.
Train employees in the hazards they face and how to perform their jobs safely. This should include new-hire safety orientation, task-specific training, and periodic refresher training. Motivate employees by providing praise for work done safely and constructive coaching for observations of unsafe behavior. When safety becomes a natural part of everyday conversation, it’s much easier to address the gaps and recognize progress. For more information, see our training and motivating tips.
An effective safety approach integrates effective claims management. First steps include:
- Designating a claims manager and the reporting process.
- Educating employees about the need to immediately report all injuries and accidents.
- Accommodating injured employees within their medical restrictions with transitional duty through a Return to Work program.
There is much more to safety management than legal compliance. However, compliance with federal / OSHA and state requirements is an important aspect of safety management. OSHA regulations do an excellent job of addressing hazards with potentially catastrophic or fatal consequences. The Montana Safety Culture Act adds measures to help promote a culture of safety that can help improve your company’s safety stats and long-term success.