Keeping the workplace safe and hazard-free is one of the top responsibilities for any company, and one of the most effective approaches for employers is to develop a well-defined safety program.
While safety programs might be a legal requirement in your industry, a safety program’s objective is about creating a safety management program that establishes policies to support the identification, evaluation, and control of hazards and risks.
The thing is, developing a safety program can be a challenging task, and even worse, as your organization grows, the harder it will be to develop the safety program with the growing workplace complexities.
With that being said, below we will discuss how to develop a safety program in just eight steps, and let us begin right away.
1. Establish that safety is a top priority in your organization
Developing and implementing a safety program requires a thorough commitment from both management and workers. It’s important to ensure the commitment of executives in planning the safety program, especially when setting safety objectives.
Ensure that the safety-related goals are properly documented in writing to maintain accountability, and also to track progress so they can be measured.
No matter how good your safety program is, it won’t work well if it’s not supported by a well-established safety culture throughout the organization.
2. Identify safety and compliance requirements in your industry
If you are located in the U.S., then you can check the safety requirements for your industry by consulting OSHA’s resources. You might also want to consult your partners or other professionals in the niche, and if necessary, get help from an outside safety consultant.
List all these requirements carefully in a written document, as you’ll need to consult this document as you develop your safety program.
3. Performing a safety audit
The next step is to perform a safety audit and risk assessment to identify potential hazards and risks in your workplace.
We can use several approaches here:
- Observation: manually observing all tasks, activities, and processes in the workplace to identify potential hazards and risks
- Interview: collecting input and feedback from workers and stakeholders involved in the activities
- Analyzing: analyzing past accidents and injury records
- Checking documents: consulting available documents, for example, equipment data sheets and instruction manuals to identify hazards
Include the identified hazard and risks in the document you’ve created in step 2. You can use OSHA safety and audit software to easily perform a safety audit and document your findings.
4. Designing control and communication measures
Based on the requirements we’ve identified in steps 2 and 3, in this step, we are going to develop control and communication measures as a part of the safety program.
In this step, employers and workers cooperate to identify the best options for eliminating or reducing workplace hazards.
A very important consideration in this step is to develop a reporting system where workers can easily and quickly report any incidents, injuries, illnesses, near misses, or any concerns related to health and safety. You might want to include an option for reporting concerns or hazards anonymously to tackle the common issue where workers fail to report incidents due to fear.
OSHA requires some of the regulations to have a written safety program, including but not limited to:
- Electrical Safety.
- Fire Prevention Plan.
- Hearing Conservation Program.
- Trenching and Excavation Safety.
- Personal Protective Equipment (hazard assessment).
- Bloodborne Pathogens Post-exposure Plan.
- Emergency Actions Plans.
- Permit-required Confined Spaces
- Hazard Communication Program.
- Lockout / Tagout Program (energy control procedures).
- Respiratory Protection Program.
Again, you can easily use iReportSource to develop these programs and control measures quite easily.
5. Implement corrective actions
You can start implementing control measures developed in the previous step accordingly. Assign workers to roles where they can take responsibility in implementing and monitoring the control measures.
6. Training your workers
A core part of any safety program is safety training.
Safety training should be made mandatory for all employees and should be a part of onboarding new employees.
The training modules should include introducing the reporting policies, the steps of identifying hazards and unsafe conditions, and proper usage of equipment.
Tools like iReportSource can also help in managing your safety training program and making it as easy as possible for workers to join and engage in training.
7. Monitoring and addressing emergencies
Once control measures have been implemented, the next step is to monitor the implementation.
Along the way, there might still be incidents and accidents even after the control measure has been implemented in place. Determine the cause of these accidents and identify what should be changed in the control measure. Take the necessary step to prevent or eliminate the same incident from happening again.
In some cases, you might need to make changes to your previously developed safety program documents and training modules.
8.Make continuous improvement
Collect feedback from workers and stakeholders about the ongoing safety program.
If necessary, set aside a regular time for a company-wide safety and health meeting with the main objective being identifying ways to improve the safety program continuously.
Regulars safety meetings can also be a great way to get workers on board with your safety program and safety culture. This way, workers can commit more to the safety program, and regular communications about safety can help boost team morale.
A proper safety program can be one of the most effective ways for your company to not only meet but exceeds OSHA’s compliance regulations or any similar compliance standards in your location.
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