Whether your business is large or small, or in the construction, manufacturing, or service-related industry, a safety program is an essential element of any company’s business plan. In addition to the regulatory requirements every business faces, having a safety program is essential for managing the risks associated with any operation. This article is intended to assist key personnel in the development and implementation of a safety program.
The basic elements of a safety program are:
- Management statement of support and commitment
- Assignment of responsibility
- Hazard identification and control
- Employee and supervisor training
- Safety incentives
- Workplace conditioning
- Medical treatment and emergency procedures
- Return-to-work programs
- Accident investigation and recordkeeping
- Accident reporting and recordkeeping activities
For a more detailed discussion of these elements, please refer to the Safety Program and Cost Control Guidebook.
In developing the safety program, a review of the safety and health regulations governing the company’s operations should be conducted. A good place to start is the 29 CFR 1926 Standards for companies performing construction activities, and the 29 CFR 1910 Standards for companies whose operations include manufacturing, service, transportation, etc. Any other applicable governmental regulations should also be considered. From a regulatory perspective, all employers should have a safety program that provides identification, employee training, and controls for all hazards that employees face on the job. This is also sound loss-prevention practice.
The safety program should include those management processes that identify, analyze, control, and monitor all aspects of the operation where employees are exposed to injury. This is best accomplished by conducting a risk assessment or job hazard analysis of activities conducted by employees. This should include a thorough review of tasks performed and materials used on and off the premises. Employees and supervisors at all levels should be consulted when conducting this review, as they are the best source of information relating to hazards faced on the job. Safety consultants at WCF Insurance can also assist in this process.
Once the basic elements of the safety program have been identified and compiled, the program should be evaluated within the context of the following parameters: inclusions due to regulatory requirements and hazard analysis verses what has been placed in the program. At this point, it is extremely important to limit the program to what is necessary. The program should never include extraneous items. The ideal safety program should be simple and user-friendly.
Implementing a new safety program should be conducted with the same precision as it was developed. All employees should be given the opportunity to review, be presented with, or given a copy of the new program. How this is handled will depend on the complexity of the program and organizational needs, but, at a minimum, employees should acknowledge by signature that they have been trained in company safety policies and will follow the requirements of the company’s safety program.
Implementation of a new safety program is best accomplished with the support of all employees. Hopefully employees have been involved in the development of the program, and will take some ownership of it. The more employees feel that the safety program is theirs, the greater the likelihood of success and acceptance. In some instances, implementation is best accompanied with a progressive disciplinary policy or, if company philosophy permits, an incentive program.
As processes or operations change, the program should be updated to reflect the new exposures. New hazards, processes, and equipment should be discussed at regular employee safety meetings. A safety committee is also an excellent forum for discussing previously unrecognized exposures, new control methods, and recent accidents. It is important to recognize that as time goes by, the safety program will have to evolve to address previously unrecognized hazards and changing organizational needs.
Just as a sound safety program is essential to accident prevention, the program should contain specific actions to be taken following an accident. This includes designating treating physicians, drug testing policies, accident investigation, corrective actions, procedures for monitoring an employee’s recovery, and implementing a return-to-work program.
WCF Insurance Safety Department
NOTICE: This guide may make reference to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations; however the guide is not legal advice as to compliance with OSHA or other safety laws, codes, or regulations. Compliance with OSHA and other safety laws codes or regulations, and maintaining a safe work environment for your employees remains your responsibility. WCF Insurance does not undertake to perform the duty of any person to provide for the health or safety of your employees. WCF Insurance does not warrant that your workplace is safe or healthful, or that it complies with any laws, regulations, codes, or standards.