How does your safety program measure up?

Kent O'Sullivan -
Safety First
- 19 May 2005 ( #209 )
3 min read
Every company should have a comprehensive safety program to ensure employees receive on-the-job equipment training, including initial and ongoing safety education relevant to the company's particular business activities. If your company has not already implemented such a program, doing so now will help prevent workplace injuries and be a major contributing factor in lessening mechanical downtime, thereby saving company dollars. Building safety into your organisation is a smart thing to do.

An effective safety program produces acceptable behaviour from employees by enforcing safety habits on a daily, job-to-job basis. A safety program that starts with hiring and continues with ongoing training and employee education will reap rewards for employer and employee.

Loss Prevention

Loss prevention and loss control mean avoiding claims, unidentified losses, and injuries.

Indirect losses can be a loss of production, time, morale and the credibility of your organisation, all of which may result in higher insurance rates. Direct losses are paid by insurers; indirect losses - higher premiums - are paid by you and are often four times the expense of direct losses.

Keeping employees on the job and productive by reducing accident incidence and severity is the major goal of any loss control program. Increased productivity and fewer accidents contribute to company profitability.

A loss control program sets standards from the top on down, encouraging acceptable employee behaviour, monitoring work habits and offering regular training and guidance. A simple, regular safety meeting once a week will not do the job. Although safety meetings are important, much more is required to effectively control losses.

What should a safety program consist of?

A company safety program must cover all aspects of safety, including, but not limited to, workers' compensation, liability, property damage, training, ongoing employee education goals and regulatory compliance requirements.
Your safety program should include:
  1. General policy and procedure
    Covers all general safety aspects in your business.
  2. Regulatory compliance
    To avoid heavy fines or worse, your company and its employees must be aware of, and conversant with, applicable safety regulations and standards.
  3. Training
    An effective program begins with management's commitment to setting a clearly defined policy for implementing safety goals and standards in your workforce. The policy is communicated to employees via initial and ongoing training.
Company policies need to be communicated clearly to employees, especially during times of high turnover and in the busy season. The smart thing to do is to have everything in writing: a written program, checklists, supporting documentation and forms.

Documentation allows you to clearly measure progress and gives you tools to more easily resolve disputes. Thorough, ongoing documentation is vital if a regulatory authority investigates your company because, when under investigation, you must be able to prove you have an effective safety program in place and are exercising due diligence. Should litigation arise, verbal testimony will not be enough to win the case in court.

After implementing your safety program, evaluate what you have and where you could make improvements, then follow through and set up ways to make your program even stronger. This is a major step toward controlling losses and increasing profitability.

Your comprehensive daily safety program will require constant monitoring to correct and improve it.

Kent O'Sullivan is a Certified Master Instructor Trainer with The Columbia Compliance Group. Columbia Compliance Group is a safety consulting firm that specialises in offering professional mobile equipment safety training programs & publications throughout North America.
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