When was the last time you performed a safety audit of your shop and/or warehouse?
What is your accident and incident rate?
How many days have you gone without a lost time accident?
What are your annual workers’ compensation costs?
Do you have a functioning safety committee?
Have you posted your OSHA-required annual summary of injuries and illnesses in the workplace for last year?
These are not random questions you can afford to ignore. They are intended to stimulate both thought and conversation inside your company. After working in the cleaning and restoration industries for several years, my sense is that some companies may be more lucky than good when it comes to safety awareness and management.
Why create a safety program?
Well-designed and well-managed safety programs can pay dividends from a financial perspective, as well as through increased employee motivation. When it comes to keeping employees safe, developing policies, disciplining violators, keeping records, conducting training, communicating on issues, establishing commitments, inspecting work areas, investigating accidents and evaluating efforts… it is not only the law. It is also the right thing to do for all of your employees and for the continued growth of your company.
In the United States, it has been reported that more than 4.2 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses occur at work annually. According to OSHA, the three major causes of injuries (overextending, falling and bodily reaction) were responsible for 40 percent of the direct costs of injuries. As I am sure you will recognize, our industries are very susceptible to these three causes and many other injuries and illnesses. Furthermore, accident costs have gone up faster than inflation because of the rapid increase in medical costs.
“Safety should not be viewed or stated simply as a priority,” says James Roughton, a safety professional with an MS in Safety. “The priorities of a company can change over time, and even on short notice [as everyone in the restoration and cleaning industries would attest], but values do not. To say that keeping everyone in your company safe is a priority means that it will change based on the needs or urgencies of the moment and will not always be on the top of your priority list.” Obviously, the message that Roughton wants to convey is that safety management needs to be a core value, not a temporary priority.
So, are you lucky or are you good when it comes to safety management? If you are good — congratulations! Keep it up. If you are lucky, let’s talk about two practices you need to begin immediately.
Making a plan
First, at the heart of an effective safety management program is an organizational accountability to a comprehensive safety effort that should be coordinated at the top level of management and include all members of the organization. It should be reflected in everything that you do each and every day.
Secondly, if you are you willing to create a safe culture that is truly a core value, find a way to incorporate these five components into your safety practices:
- Organizational commitment
- Policies, practices and procedures for safety compliance
- Training and communication including posted safety signs
- Full and complete participation, including an active safety committee
- Inspection, investigation and constant evaluation.
Integrate these components to make safety a core value, and you will be well on your way to a healthier and more successful organization. Although it will take some time to accomplish, it will keep you from having to rely on luck.
Scott Tackett joined Violand Management Associates (VMA) with a 32-year background in manufacturing, human resource management and organizational leadership. He is currently a business development advisor for VMA where he works closely with business owners and their key management staff as both a business consultant and an executive coach. To learn more about VMA’s services and programs visit Violand.com or call (330) 966-0700.