01/09/2004

Building a Safety Program from Scratch

The technical editor of the US Occupational Health & Safety website offers good
ideas or "do's" that will help developing and establishing a comprehensive
safety and health program. These include:


  • Do know whom you report to within the organization. Your authority is
    directly linked to this position.
  • Do watch out for the whiners. Every new safety professional is confronted
    by an aggrieved worker who wants someone else to fight his battle for him. Be
    aware and avoid being used for other peoples' or departments' agendas.
  • Do have an established budget. Identify exactly what you are to accomplish
    and earmark money for your efforts. Set up expected costs. Then, double your
    budget. Safety almost always costs more than you planned, and it is nearly
    impossible to gather more money "hat in hand" after the original budget is
    approved.
  • Do gather the existing documents (or copies of them). There are safety
    efforts already being accomplished throughout the company; your job will
    include finding these items and gathering all of the documentation into one
    effort so it can be maintained.
  • Do evaluate your facility for all safety- and health-related programs that
    are needed. Make a laundry list of all programs the company should implement.
    Establish a critical list of things to be done and continue to prioritize items
    as you go down the list. Update the list as necessary.
  • Do be realistic. Pace yourself, as well as the implementation of a program.
    Pushing too hard too fast can create a negative backwash very quickly and tear
    a fledgling program apart. Workers never like to be forced into any action or
    new program. Prepare them for the new programs long before start date in order
    to warm them to the idea.
  • Do inform employees, supervisors, and management of your role. Nothing is
    worse than being challenged from the workers as to your authority and a
    justification of your role. It takes time for your name and position to be
    known.
  • Do keep safety efforts fresh. Try different approaches to training and
    rotate your efforts in order to keep the program sharp and looking fresh and
    new.
  • Do keep management involved. Report to them on a regular basis--whether
    daily, weekly, or monthly--about your efforts, accomplishments. and challenges.
  • Do use the safety programs yourself. Not wearing appropriate safety PPE
    will kill your credibility fast! Practice what you preach in the safety field.
  • Do keep staff and management informed. Regular updates as to what is being
    implemented, accomplishments, cost savings, and such are important mile markers
    for employees and management alike.
  • Do set up and keep good records of the program. If you begin with good
    recordkeeping, it is easier to maintain. One of the primary wheels in the
    safety machine is documentation for all programs, training, and injuries.
  • Do try different types of training for your programs. Hands-on training,
    skills training, video, classic classroom, or computer-based--all have a place
    in the program. Use what works.
  • Do ensure all special needs for training are met. This may include training
    geared to workers who are visually or hearing impaired, have other physical
    handicaps, or are hampered by illiteracy or a limited grasp of English. Plan
    ahead for these situations to avoid a last-minute problem.
  • Do set up training sessions ahead of time. This ensures adequate visibility
    from employees, shows professionalism on your part, and helps provide quality
    workshops each and every time.
  • Do use high-quality visuals, the best the program can afford. If you can
    not afford new, rent or borrow visuals such as videos, etc.
  • Do provide written evaluation and feedback methods for all training and
    program elements. Every session should be evaluated in order to maintain the
    consistency of your training.
  • Do evaluate and critique your own efforts on a regular basis.
    Self-evaluation is sometimes painful, but it is a necessary tool for advancing
    your own efforts as a safety trainer.
  • Do have fun! Safety is truly a compassionate service to others and is
    really a positive force, despite all the negative feedback and "thou shalt not"
    associated with programs. Concentrate on those efforts that improve employees'
    safety and morale. Such efforts spill over into all you do.


Further Information


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