On the surface, it looks like you’re doing everything right when it comes to safety. You have a safety team all set up. They have flyers posted around the breakroom. They might even hold a meeting once in a while.
But what would happen if you dug a little deeper?
With the risk of lost work days, compensation costs, production delays, and a blemished public image, companies can't afford to be lax with their health and safety initiatives. It is the one area that affects every employee in your company and requires the team to work as a cohesive unit, from the ground floor all the way up the chain of command.
If you're just using your safety program to stay compliant, you're missing out on an important opportunity. In this article, we'll go over the steps you need to take to develop a safety plan that will help you meet your business goals.
Creating a Comprehensive Workplace Safety Plan
Creating a viable safety plan sounds complicated and time intensive. There are so many moving parts and a lot of variables to consider, not to mention the challenge of getting everyone on board.
But it doesn't have to be a daunting task. Breaking it down into steps and being flexible will save you a lot of time and trouble
1. Assess Your Company's Needs
Start simple. Use surveys, interviews with team members, and direct observation to determine what your team is doing. What tasks do they perform, what equipment do they use, and what safety measures are already in place to make sure everything gets done without any incidents? It is crucial to understand every job within the company when making safety goals.
Review safety reports and performance reviews. Compile and analyze the data for trends and look for specific areas to target for improvement. Make sure you highlight areas where your team is successful and try to discover techniques that are working for you already. Be sure to pay attention to both lagging and leading indicators.
Finally, consider the culture of your team. How do employees and management interact with each other? What is the best way to share information with your team? Understanding how your employees interact will help you create a safety plan they can comfortably buy into.
It is important to understand how your employees interact so that you build company culture into your safety plan and goals (find out How to Get Employees and Management on Board with Safety).
2. Develop a Method.
Using the information gleaned from the assessment phase, determine who should be responsible for monitoring and enforcing safety programs, creating guidelines, and measuring progress down the line.
Your safety team should be small but drawn from a variety of positions within your company. All members must be engaged in promoting health and safety throughout the company and motivated to help the program succeed. Remember, the goal is to have all levels and departments collaborating on this process.
3. Educate Management
We all understand the importance of safety training for front-line employees. But management often needs more in-depth training since they're accountable for the day to day operations. This is the perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of safety and to hold them accountable for safety goals the same they are accountable for production targets.
4. Train Your Team
Once management is trained, well-versed on all safety measures, and engaged in the overall culture of safety, it’s time to focus on the rest of your team. This can be tricky but it's necessary to deliver your message and continue to engage every member of your team.
Don’t overdo it on videos and lectures. A video can be a great way to deliver information but it’s important to mix things up. Create special days or weeks to spotlight safety in your organization. Consider bringing in guest speakers or including a special training session that is in line with furthering your objectives.
5. Implement and Regularly Review Your Safety Plan
You might get feedback that requires you to refine some aspects of your plan or even adjust your goals. Your employees need to know you're listening to them and including them in the process. Make your goals clear and make sure they are well known at every level of the company.
Making sure everyone is satisfied doesn't always mean aiming for conservative or middle-of-the-road goals. Don't be afraid to mix some lofty goals with the more reasonable ones. That kind of optimism might just be what your team needs (learn more in The Journey to Zero!).
Once your plan is in place, set regular times to review your progress and communicate these timelines with your team. Reminders and progress updates in between these review sessions can help encourage your team along the way.
Cultivating Safety Champions Throughout Your Company
Integrating your safety plan into your overall business plan requires teamwork. It’s not likely to happen overnight and you will need some patience and persistence. Your safety teams need to be empowered to be effective and prevent the frustration that leads to collapse of a program.
To combat this, try starting with two levels of safety teams that act as representatives of your whole company. Every department should be represented and have a voice.
Core Safety Team
Generally comprised of upper-level management, this small group of individuals is where the safety plan begins, measurable goals are established, and a timetable for achieving the goals is set. They should be very transparent about the entire plan, the goals being set, and how they intend to follow up on them.
A larger committee should be tasked with delivering new information up and down the chain of command. This committee needs to receive training and meet regularly with the Core Safety Team to discuss their progress and areas that are lagging. They should have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and these should be visible to everyone.
Encourage your employees to work toward a culture of safety and empower them to follow through. If every level of your company makes safety a part of the business culture, it will become a priority and move you closer to achieving your business goals.