Well, it’s happened again. Another year is almost in the books; time sure does fly by doesn’t it? As we review the events of 2017 and look forward to the new year, please be sure that workplace safety is part of the conversation.
Here are a few questions to ask regarding 2017 and the effectiveness of your safety program:
- Did your safety committee meet regularly and conduct activities that actually made the workplace safer? Or was everyone “too busy” to attend, some meetings were cancelled, and no one really took any proactive actions to prevent injuries? If the latter is the case, then start 2018 with a different message: Safety is as important as production and quality, so there are no excuses for not addressing safety issues.
- Were there fewer injuries in 2017? Were all incidents investigated thoroughly to determine root causes with corrective action taken? If you can’t answer “yes” to both questions it is time to devote more resources to hazard identification and remediation, and to improve the investigation process. One injury is bad enough, but a second one from the same or similar cause is tragic.
- Is there open communication between all employees and management regarding safety issues? Are all concerns heard and answered in a timely manner? Remember, the employees doing the work understand the hazards and the controls needed. Listen to them and ensure the appropriate controls are in place. At the same time, ensure all employees are following the safety policies and best practices.
- Does your organizational culture support safety at each level? A clear message should be delivered to every person: All injuries are preventable! Granted, this is a difficult task, but if your employees don’t think all injuries are preventable then how could they be expected to prevent all injuries? Don’t let the mantra “it was an accident” lead you down the path of complacency. Workplace injuries are not “accidents” - they are predictable outcomes that occur when people accept injuries as inevitable and don’t do all they can to take care of people. We are all people, and we all make mistakes. But focusing on safety with unyielding accountability and consistent best practices will eliminate the vast majority of injuries.
The costs of workplace injuries, both human and monetary, are simply too great to tolerate. Thousands of people died at work in 2017 and millions more injured. It’s time for a 2018 New Year’s Resolution that will take care of people and keep businesses profitable. Make it your mission to see that everyone in your charge operates safely all year by conducting all appropriate training, providing all necessary tools and equipment, controlling all known hazards, communication regarding safety is open and effective, and all incidents are investigated completely with appropriate follow up actions taken. That’s a lot for one sentence, but it sums up what needs to be done by all of us to keep ourselves and our fellow workers safe and healthy. Make your 2018 a banner year for workplace safety!