This week a business owner asked me if he needed a formal safety program. His business employed 10 people and has been successful in preventing workplace injuries for several years. However, he felt some level of uncertainty about his informal safety and health efforts.
Following a brief discussion and a work site tour, it was evident that his organization had elements of a formal safety and health program: An organized workplace, well maintained tools and equipment, elimination of hazardous tasks, and availability of personal protective equipment.
I suspect that many business owners find themselves in a similar situation. They feel that they are doing enough to provide a safe workplace and if they have few injuries, why have a formal program?
I also suspect that some businesses owners feel as if their luck has changed- the informal safety efforts that have worked in the past are no longer working.
If you wonder why you need a formal safety and health program, start by asking these questions:
- How do my employees know that I expect them to work safely?
- How do I address unsafe work conditions before an accident or near miss?
- Does management understand that they are accountable for safe work conditions?
- How are employees trained to perform their job?
- Do my employees participate in the safety and health process?
- Am I compliant with regulatory safety and health requirements?
If you don’t have answers to these questions, a written safety and health policy will provide a definite course of action and a schedule of activities. There are various guidance documents available, but most will have these basic program elements:
- Management commitment and employee involvement
- Worksite analysis
- Hazard identification and control
- Employee training
To get started, I recommend MEMIC’s Seven Steps to a Safer Workplace guide. This document and other safety support materials are available on MEMIC’s Safety Director website. You will quickly build a formal safety and health program and will eliminate any uncertainty about the effectiveness and consistency of your future safety efforts.