Welcome to the year 2024, where we kick off by helping you initiate your safety program. Ensuring the safety of your employees and creating a secure work environment is not just a legal requirement, but also a fundamental responsibility of any organization. Our goal at Training Tracker is to empower companies to achieve training and compliance, by being the go-to software provider for training and certification tracking, compliance, and auditing. We will help guide you through the steps to kickstart a successful safety program within your organization.
To establish a successful training program, employers should train employees on safe work practices in a language they speak and understand. Employers must educate their employees by coaching them on work safety procedures, i.e., what they need to do and why they need to do it. Employees are more likely to understand and adhere to a workplace safety program when the ‘why’ behind the safety processes and procedures is explained to them, and they can relate to it.
A successful safety program may start from the top. Getting leadership commitment and support is crucial for a winning safety culture. The policies and procedures designed and implemented in a company’s safety program need leadership support and buy-in to be sustainable and consistent, leading to success.
What’s next? Where do you start if your company doesn’t have a safety program in place? Below is a guide on where to begin when initiating a safety program.
Step 1: Assess Risk & Hazards
When assessing risks and hazards in your workplace, it is important to take note of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) top 10 cited violations. For the 2023 fiscal year, these included:
- Fall protection
- Hazard communication
- Powered industrial trucks
- Respiratory protection
- Fall protection-training requirements
- Personal proactive and lifesaving equipment- eye and face protection
- Machine Guarding
Although not all of these items may apply to your business or be relevant to your company’s safety program, we recommend this list be used as a starting point when assessing the risks and hazards in your workplace. OSHA provides various resources and Fact Sheets to help create safety training material for your company. Engaging employees in this process is essential since they know their daily challenges and dangers.
Step 2: Develop safety policies and procedures
The next step will be to develop clear and comprehensive safety policies and procedures, especially if you have identified any risks and hazards. These documents should include emergency response plans, accident reporting procedures, and guidelines for using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). To foster a culture of safety awareness, all employees should be trained on these policies.
Step 3: Employee training and education
Employees play a significant role in a company’s safety program. All employees need to be trained, educated, and coached in all safety policies and procedures to ensure that the strategies put in place are effective. Training sessions should be more like ‘coaching’ sessions, which are interactive, engaging, and tailored to the specific job roles within the organization. Training is equal to education/sharing of knowledge. Coaching is the changing of behavior. If the desired outcome is to change an employee’s behavior, then it is vital to implement coaching techniques.
Providing regular refresher courses will help reinforce the safety protocols and keep employees informed about any updates or changes. Remember to document all training and education delivered to your employees.
Step 4: Implement Safety Measures
Identifying risks to mitigate loss in the workplace is the foundation of a safety program. Once a risk or hazard is identified, it is vital to find ways to omit the risk or hazard. Safety measures should be implemented if the risk or hazard is not avoidable.
Putting in place physical safety measures once the hazard is recognized is an essential part of your safety program. This could include installing safety guards on machinery, implementing ergonomic solutions to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries, etc. These measures must be regularly reviewed and updated as the organization evolves.
Step 5: Monitor and Evaluate
Once you establish a safety program, you will need to continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your program to ensure what is put into place is effective. Regular inspections, incident reporting, and employee feedback will provide invaluable insight into the program’s success and areas for improvement. Your safety initiatives should be adjusted and enhanced by your evaluations of the effectiveness of the processes and procedures of your safety program.
Step 6: Recognition and Incentives
Employee education and coaching are imperative to successfully implementing an organization’s safety program. To keep employees motivated in adhering to the safety program and maintaining a safe workplace, it is important to recognize (reward) the behavior you want from your employees, not only the result. You can do this by establishing a reward system that provides incentives on an individual basis for when they actively contribute to maintaining a safe workplace and following policies and procedures. It could be as simple as a “thank you” or “good job” for wearing earplugs.
In pursuing workplace safety and compliance with OSHA’s standards, documenting training is crucial in every organization’s safety program process. This step serves as a fundamental aspect of workplace safety, as OSHA mandates that it is considered non-existent if training is not documented. To facilitate this, encourage using training logs such as Training Tracker, electronic platforms, or other tracking mechanisms to record dates, topics covered, attendees, and any additional pertinent information.
Initiating a safety program is a proactive and essential step for any organization that is committed to the well-being of its employees. A safety program isn’t merely the next step in the process; it should be at the top of any organization’s priority list. Creating a work environment that prioritizes the health and safety of its employees is our definition of a great work culture!