5 Steps to Developing an Effective Workplace Safety Program

Step 1: Demonstrate Company’s Commitment to Workplace Safety

The best way to start spreading awareness about the importance of workplace safety is to make it a company-wide value. WorkSafeMT suggests adding a clause about the prioritization of safety in the company’s mission statement. This step mostly concerns management, at first, as they must reflect these values in word and action. This doesn’t just mean verbally encouraging employees to follow proper safety procedures, but also conducting a thorough investigation of each and every workplace accident.

Step 2: Assess Workplace Risks and Hazards

Next, you need to get a proper assessment of everyday hazards specific to your workplace. In addition to receiving a professional assessment, management should also release a company-wide survey to give employees the opportunity to express risk concerns anonymously. It’s important to get employees’ opinions as well. Since the employees work in these conditions every day, they can often give insight about risks that aren’t obvious to the untrained eye. During both professional and employee assessments, make sure to create a distinction between workplace hazards (building design/layout), activity hazards (machinery-related), and environmental hazards (air quality/health risks).

Step 3: Create a Written Protocol for Employees

Once you’ve accurately assessed all workplace hazards, you can start creating the guidelines for your safety program. According to WorkSafeMT, “to create a safety culture that exhibits accountability, employee job descriptions must be clear and in writing, and must state specifically the issues and requirements regarding safety and health responsibilities. Having these requirements in writing is critical because it greatly reduces opportunities for ambivalence and misinterpretation.”

Step 4: Emphasize Employee Education

After you’ve created your business’s workplace safety guidelines, it’s time to get employees on board. Employee training is always done when the employee is first hired, but a good rule of thumb is to train employees on any new changes in procedure — after an employee transfer, upon receiving new equipment, and upon noticing new hazards. A sporadic refresher can also help employees stay up-to-date on the latest procedures.

Step 5: Implement and Evaluate

This was touched on briefly earlier, but it’s critical to make sure to investigate all workplace accidents, no matter how minor they may be. More often than not, these incidents are entirely preventable, and it’s important to determine the cause in order to come to a safer solution in the future. As unfortunate as these accidents are, they provide a chance to make working conditions safer for employees in the future. You should also continue to make employee feedback a priority, even if it is anonymous. Workplace duties are always evolving, and new safety risks can present themselves faster than most employers realize.  Ultimately, following these steps will help any business to develop and implement a viable and effective workplace safety program. The most important part of implementation is to create and sustain an open flow of communication between employees and employers.

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