Safety in the workplace is everyone’s business. In reality, however, it is ultimately the business owner’s responsibility, especially as it’s something that can positively and negatively impact a company’s bottom line. That’s why having a documented safety plan is a must.
The costs and benefits of workplace safety
According to the National Safety Council, work injuries cost businesses in the U.S. over $170 billion in 2018. That figure takes into account wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, and administrative expenses.
The good news is that when you have a plan to keep workers safe, you can reduce losses like those listed above. You can also control medical premiums, worker’s compensation costs, and even overtime hours worked to compensate for an employee who can’t work their designated shift due to injuries. A safe workplace also delivers benefits like employee loyalty, increased production, and reduced stress.
Working together to create a documented safety plan
Although safety is a top-down job, creating a safety plan should include both management and employees. Employees can bring up any concerns they have about specific work areas, allowing management to address potentially unknown dangers. Also, involving both management and employees creates workplace safety champions among staff members who will lead the charge in protecting themselves and their fellow workers.
Establishing a safety committee that will hold monthly meetings, make recommendations, and work to promote safety initiatives will ensure that the documented safety plan is in place, followed, and updated as the company changes or needs change. This allows for continuous improvement over time.
In addition to considerations relating to equipment use and other daily tasks, it is recommended that any documented safety plan include language about drug and alcohol use on the job, as well as not being under the influence of either drugs or alcohol while at work.
Implementing Your Documented Safety Plan
Analyzing worksites for risks
Thoroughly evaluating the safety of a worksite is more than merely a walkthrough. A trained professional sees existing hazards and has the training needed to assess the likelihood of a workplace injury based on several conditions. He or she can then:
- Identify real or potential hazards
- Provide feedback for eliminating hazards
- Address workplace design concerns (such as ergonomics) that negatively affect safety and productivity
- Evaluate emergency response plans
- Review previous incident reports to identify the causes of injuries and identify trends
A trained risk and safety specialist is also an excellent partner when planning a project, as he or she can point out concerns that could be problematic during construction or in the future.
Training employees to be safe
Health and safety training should be a part of every new employee’s onboarding process. New hires should receive a physical copy of your company’s written safety plan and review it with Human Resources, his or her supervisor, or the business owner. By the end of their onboarding, the new employee should understand how to protect himself or herself against hazards, report unsafe conditions, and otherwise follow the safety plan document.
As an employer, it is essential that you document that workers have received a copy of the plan, that the safety plan has been reviewed with them, and that they understand the plan. It is recommended that training be ongoing, with safety meetings, newsletters, posters, and other reminders of the importance of this topic.
Training managers and supervisors to lead safe teams
Managers and supervisors are employees and, therefore, should receive the same health and safety training as other staff members. They should also be given specialized training to help them work with their team members to develop safety skills and knowledge, recognize staff for safety performance, and provide support to individuals, programs, and committees relating to workplace health and safety. In short, they should be your company’s front line in fostering and promoting safety.
Supervisors should also undergo full training on how to complete an accident investigation document to detail the cause of an incident, any immediate measures taken, etc.
Being ready for OSHA
Having a solid documented safety plan will give you peace of mind when an OSHA audit occurs. Be prepared to show them information such as:
- Your safety training manual
- Training verifications
- Equipment inspections
- Details about your safety meetings
- Completed accident investigation forms
- Ongoing training documentation
- Any hazard communication documents
As a business owner, having a documented safety plan is good for you, your workers, and your business. If you don’t have a plan in place, or if you’re unsure where to begin, contact Avitus Group. Our Safety Team is ready to get you started with a thoroughly documented safety program.