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10 ways to improve workplace safety

Introduction

 

If you could save money, improve productivity, and increase employee morale, would you?

 

Businesses spend a huge amount of money each year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses -- expenditure that come straight out of company profit.

 

Workplaces that establish robust Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems (OSH MS) can reduce their injury and illness costs and in today's business environment, these costs can be the difference between operating in profit or deficit.

 

Establishing an OSH MS will also help improve other area’s within your business such as productivity, reduced downtime, improved morale and as a consequence, add value to your business.

 

Your own internal management system will already set a number of outputs that you need to implement including audits and inspection, training programs etc, however below are some area’s which can help deliver improved performance from within your system.

 

Integration

It is now recognized by many leading industry experts that unless a business integrates their business management systems, the chances of success within that organization are greatly reduced. When looking at integration it is vital that Occupation Safety and Health is a component of the overall business management systems. By integrating OSH in this manager, not only will it become easier to implement, however OSH will become part of the normal day to day running of the business, which is the first step in improving Osh performance and developing a strong safety culture.

 

If you currently have a standalone OSH management system, undertake a gap analysis and look at area’s where duplication may occur within the business, common area’s often include contractor management or training. Other departments within the business may already have defined systems, examine how you can add the OSH requirements to their procedures rather than creating an additional procedure.

 

Examine all areas of your business and look at how OSH can be integrated into the outcomes. Try to get people thinking - how to do things safely rather than what do I need to do for safety!

 

Consultation

Consultation with your staff on the development of OSH management system is vital if you are to implement a safety culture and improve performance. Your staff will have a greater understanding of how things are actually undertaken and this information must be integrated into your risk management programs.

 

 

 

Competent people

 

To deliver success it is vital that the people who are working towards this vision are competent and able to deliver the roles expected. Establish gateways within your management system to identify what the competency requirements for specific roles and then measure your staff against them. This will also help develop internal training programs. Make sure that OSH is part of all competency training, as integration is still a key factor.

 

Define your goals

As an organization, it is essential that you define what you want to achieve with regards to OSH performance and from this document how you are going to get there (SMART). High performing organizations will have documented programs to manage the objectives and these will be regularly reviewed and updated.

When developing programs, break these down into small deliverables with achievable timescales. Try to move away from a huge five year plan and think in days, a 100 day plan will have a much bigger impact than a five year plan as people will relate to this – it is now.

 

Engage with your staff when developing programs – encourage interaction and input as this will help drive ownership from you staff.

 

Never be afraid to change or update your programs, especially if they are not meeting the current expectations.

 

Lead from the Front

By managing OSH, managers and supervisors make things happen. It's a linear, practical function, however by leading OSH, managers and supervisors show employees why safety matters, why they should be motivated to get behind it and want to do it.

 

Leadership commitment (or lack thereof) to safety will always show. What your organization’s leaders value is typically what gets done. In great safety cultures, leadership proves their commitment to safety through their actions and how they empower others throughout the organization to win with their safety initiatives.

 

Avoid getting members of top management to do safety walks or tours, although it is good visibility, senior management should be looking at safety all the time, not just when they are told to do a safety tour, this approach will never lead to sustained success. Integrate safety into their normal day and ask them to look at how do they deliver safely, rather than when do I need to do safety.

 

Accountability

As with all other objectives within the business, people should also be judged upon the OSH performance. Typically within poor organizations, the only people with targets and objectives related to OSH performance is the OSH manager, which is totally the wrong person to hold them. All levels of management should have specific targets related to the OSH performance of the business and success, or otherwise, should have a direct impact upon the annual performance reviews of individuals and as such reward packages.

 

Empower your people

To deliver robust OSH management it is vital that you empower your people to make decisions regarding OSH. Encourage your staff to take the initiative when it comes to safety, bringing new ideas on how to improve OSH practices and procedures. Provide your staff with open means of communication to put forward their ideas and importantly allow them to be part fo the implementation process when ideas are taken forward, this again will breed ownership form within and form there self-policing of standards.

 

Reward Success

Rather than reward high production targets that encourage quick work with a dismissive shrug towards safety, reward those workers who have followed all your safety rules and have provided efficient work consistently. By putting an emphasis on safety instead of productivity, you’re rewarding the method of achievement rather than the end result.

 

Continually look for improvement

As with any management program, you should always be looking for ways to improve. OSH Management systems will already have a number of ways embedded that can help identify improvement, such as annual management reviews, audits and inspections etc, all of which are important to the success of your system, however also look at other ways to identify improvements, listen to your staff and gather their thoughts, sometimes the most simple idea for the workforce can have a huge impact upon performance.

 

 Regular Training

Even your best people need a refresher after some time to keep them on track. The best way people learn in any organization is through its culture, but again, your employees at some point will turn complacent at their job and complacency is the most dangerous form of hazard. Refresher training can teach them some new techniques on how to be safe at work, plus it will remind them of their role in safety.

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