To provide the services necessary to implement an effective program, a thorough assessment is essential. This would entail examining current records, policies and procedures, conducting surveys, and possibly testing and interviewing employees. The Safety Training Empowerment Program or “STEP™” Safety Guide is used as the core empowerment tool.
We are all driven by caring in one form or another. Good workers are conscientious and may be concerned about pleasing the boss, foreman or co-worker. Most of us work to ensure a good life-style for our spouses and children. We spend almost half of our awake life at work in this country and how we are treated while we’re here has a huge impact on our lives. The STEP™ emphasizes the importance of human factors and empowers all workers to be part of a process that not only impacts the companies they work for but also gives them the power to make a difference in their lives and the lives of loved ones and co-workers.
Each one of us acts or reacts to outside forces in which we receive a consequence. In the field of safety, an example may be that we don’t wear safety glasses because they are not comfortable for us. The incentive for working safely need not be in the form of money or a gift, it should be emphasized that the reason we work safely is for everything that is most important in our lives. Usually this would be our families. The STEP™ heightens awareness and emphasizes this important incentive to work safely. This will override any consequence that drives us to work unsafely if instilled regularly.
Employees actively participating in the safety process are likely to work safer on the job. A bulletin board posting or even a simple pat on the back for this participation, or maybe for a good safety observation report can go a long way to boost morale and improve safe work behaviors. Actively caring for the employee by knowing their families’ names to personalize conversations can dramatically improve awareness relating to safe work practices.
All injuries, work-related illnesses or vehicle accidents should be thoroughly investigated to determine root cause. Once this is done, measures should be taken to immediately rectify the cause and avoid recurrence. A determination of equipment inadequacy or malfunction may prompt a JHA to assess the need to replace equipment or modify its use. Environmental, procedural, training issues or behavioral concerns may be uncovered giving light to a problem that would not have otherwise been identified.
If a violation of policies, procedures or rules takes place, it is important for companies to have a mechanism to address the issue. This may be in the form of coaching an otherwise good employee to prevent similar violations in the future. However, in the case of the habitual unsafe worker, it is important to have a formal policy to correct the undesirable action. This should include a step progression that has time limitations and documentation for methods of reprimand up to termination of employment. While this is not pleasant, this policy protects the company and helps to ensure that employees exposing themselves to hazards still get home in one piece.
To assess the effectiveness of the safety program, regular worksite observations are required. This may be formal and documented by a supervisor, or more informal using a checklist as a guide by field leaders. Effective safety practices can be analyzed by stepping back and observing the whole job including: employees, hazard risk controls, work procedures, energy source controls, equipment condition and setup, and use of personal protective equipment. Any equipment deficiencies found may be brought to the safety committee for review. Employee behavior issues may be addressed immediately or through re-training. Care should be taken to emphasize the good practices identified and only address negative issues as needed to abate the problem.
Facilities and Equipment
In order to be a thriving, productive and safe business, every company needs some type of facilities or work environment to work from and there are usually tools and/or equipment required to perform the job. These assets must be inspected on a regular basis to ensure functional integrity and avoid injuries due to non-compliance or housekeeping issues.
To achieve buy-in to a safety program, employees must be involved at some level. Safety committees can be one of the most power tools in the corporate tool box. All employees may be involved through their safety committee representative. Committees should have a ratio of at least 50% workers to management personnel to be effective. Some important functions include job hazard analysis, incident investigations and analysis, new equipment research and approval, safety policy and procedure development and even training fellow employees.
Training & Orientations
When employees are hired for field positions, they are chosen based on their physical fitness and technical aptitude. Once they begin work, they usually do not understand all the aspects of each assigned task, so they require a level of technical training. In addition, to remain injury-free, an in-depth safety orientation that addresses all hazards that they may encounter should be a company priority. This may take 2 or 3 days depending on the job. The time investment is well worth it. New employees account for a high percentage of total injuries. This can be avoided, and the message sent to existing employees is powerful. Older employees typically work safer with a new employee who knows the safety rules and regulations and understands how an injury can affect their lives dramatically. In addition to safety orientations, monthly safety training is imperative to keep employees on top of all the safety requirements related to their jobs.
Fit for Job
Employees need to be able to physically handle all tasks associated with their job. A functional requirements assessment should be done for every position in the company by a certified physical therapist or physician. From this assessment, a fitness test can be developed and implemented for new employees, transferring employees, or as a tool to assess return to work for injured employees. This is helpful to both employees and the company. In-house fitness or wellness programs are also great to maintain the fitness of employees.
Policies and Procedures
Each company has unique work processes and risks associated with them. Policies and procedures may be based on the regulations associated with the task, but will likely need to go beyond the regulations and add specific information to address the identified hazards.
Rules and Regulations
This is the foundation and starting point of any effective safety program. The company must understand their obligations and liabilities before implementing the program to employees. This may include safety regulations associated with general Industry, construction trades, maritime or in mines.