Workplace safety is certainly a serious issue for all businesses, and even in this modern age when most organizations are serious about safety, there are still 5,333 recorded workplace fatalities in 2019 throughout the US, which translates to more than 15 deaths every day.
With that being said, implementing safety management can be a complicated task, especially if you are starting a new company or just starting out as a new safety manager. Figuring out where to start can be a huge challenge on its own, and this is where this article comes in.
Here, we will discuss four essential steps of implementing basic safety management that should be adopted in any workplace. While you can certainly enrich the safety management with other elements, these will be a crucial foundation in building a successful and scalable safety management program in your organization.
Without further ado, let us begin with the first step.
Step 1: Identifying Risks and Planning Accident Response Policies
The most basic and most crucial step of any safety management is risk assessment: identifying and documenting potential hazards. This should be performed via a proper safety audit.
Depending on your regulation and industry, risk assessment might be a legal requirement, so make sure to properly document all the potential risks and hazards in your workplace.
Next, you’ll need to plan what to do when these risks do happen: planning your accident response policies.
You’ll basically need to consider the following details:
- How must accidents and injuries be reported?
- Different types of reporting forms available
- How will accidents be reported to your insurance company? If claims can be performed online, document the login credentials and other required details.
- What medical facilities must be used in the event of accidents?
Obviously, you might need to work on other details depending on your insurance company, local regulations, and other details, but these will be a good start.
Carefully review the paperwork related to your safety management: insurance policies, medical records, and the follow-up paperwork. Set up response policies that will be mandatory for all your employees. These policies will be the foundation of your whole safety management program.
Step 2: Understand Safety Regulations Inside and Out
Your safety regulation must always stay compliant with safety regulations that apply to your company. Understanding these regulations will be another very important foundation for your safety management program: make sure your safety management program is already compliant with the applicable regulations before you improve upon it.
If your business is based in the US, there are four regulations that would apply to most industries:
- OSHA for safety regulations
- Transportation safety regulations from The Department of Transportation
- Environmental-related regulations Environmental Protection Agency
- Fire and electrical safety regulations from National Fire Protection Association
If you are in certain industries like agriculture, mining, or chemical, then there are other regulations you’ll need to stay in compliance with. You can ask your local industry associations for applicable regulations in your area, or there might be courses and classes you can take covering safety regulations in your industry and location.
Step 3: Planning and Implementing Safety Training
Now that you’ve identified the applicable regulations in your area and the potential hazards, the next step is to plan how you are going to train your employees for each regulation.
You’ll need to decide the training material, who to train it, and when to retrain.
The training can be facilitated by the safety manager, but you might also get help from retired veterans in the industry, your in-house supervisor, or an external certified trainer. However, the training programs must be supervised by one person accountable for meeting the requirements.
Safety training is often the most complex challenge in safety management, but nowadays we can leverage safety training tracking software like iReportSource to easily plan and manage your training programs, as well as other aspects of safety management like safety audit, analytics, and intuitive accident reporting features.
You can, for example, use iReportSource to:
- Assign training with automated reminders and due dates
- Host your training materials so they are available on-demand for review for all your employees
- Tracks time spent on each document to monitor the effectiveness of training
- Implement approval requirements for specific training when needed
- Mobile apps for your employees and for supervisors
- Verify all on-site employees are in compliance with safety training
- Employee training documentation stored and always available
Step 4: Regular Inspections and Evaluations
Last but not least, we should remember that safety management is not a one-off process, but rather a continuous one. It’s important to plan ahead how you are going to evaluate the performance of your safety management program and conduct inspections on your workplace and other facilities.
Inspections can also be a major challenge in implementing a safety management program, although again, a safety management solution like iReportSource can significantly help in planning and monitoring inspections.
All your inspections should begin with the regulations you’ve identified in step 2: for each requirement in the regulation, you should conduct an inspection and include this requirement in your inspection form. You may end up with a (very) long inspection form, but as you get more experienced in conducting these inspections, you can eliminate items and make your forms more concise.
Also, you might want to break your inspections into different types:
- For the whole workplace facility (or facilities)
- For specific equipment
- For specific regulation
- By time (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.)
The ultimate objective of implementing your safety management system is to lower your employees’ exposures to hazards and/or the risks associated with these hazards to reduce or completely eliminate the potential for accidents. Safety management can also help improve cost-efficiency, for example reducing the costs you’ll otherwise need for repeated training.