How to Build a Successful Health and Safety Program
5 min read A safety program is a defined plan of action designed to prevent accidents and meet health and safety legislation requirements. Safety programs play an important role in carrying out daily safe work practices in a variety of job tasks and environments within an organization. The purpose of such programs is to ensure that everyone in the company is aware of work associated hazards and risks and understands how to perform their job safely. Safety programs, however, are only as good as their implementation. They should include recognition for safe performance and consequences for non-conformance. These programs can also help your company maintain compliance with laws and regulations. It is everyone’s responsibility to work safely. The more employers and employees who participate and are educated about safety in the workplace, the more people who will go home safe at the end of the day. The Value of a Thorough Safety ProgramWell-developed health and safety programs help workers and employers prepare for activities that could impact their quality of life and prevent life-altering incidents. These programs are also an essential steppingstone to improving a company’s overall health and safety culture. Reduce Workplace Injuries and FatalitiesAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in five workplace deaths in the U.S. in 2017 were in the construction industry. The leading causes of these deaths—excluding highway collisions—were falls, being struck by an object, electrocution and caught-in/between. A thorough health and safety program can ensure written programs are in place that cover topics like those in construction’s “Fatal Four” in hopes of reducing workplace injuries and fatalities. Increase Employee Morale and Productivity One of the keys to having a successful safety program is allowing employee participation in program building, which will encourage them to take ownership and promote a beneficial safety culture. Reduce SpendHealth and safety programs also include additional benefits, such as reducing company cost by helping reduce injuries. In turn, this decreases the time that would be spent investigating workplace injuries or the time that would be spent training a short service worker to replace an injured one. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that employers pay nearly $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone. These costs far outweigh the upfront struggles of preventing an incident by creating a safety program to deter it. Prepare for your Program Following are a few steps you can take prior to drafting your health and safety program. First, identify your company’s purpose for developing a standard approach. Define why it’s important to your company and why this program is being created. And ensure that you have management support to implement such a program. Next, identify the scope of your program. Who will be affected by it and who will need to comply? Your health and safety program will become a crucial resource for employees to reference on the job. It’s important to create a program that includes any task that imposes risk to your employees and tools to help them identify and mitigate the associated hazards and risks. And then, ensure your program is specific to the tasks performed by your employees and contract workers and applies to the everyday operations of the company. Create a complete list of job types, tasks and associated hazards and risks to address in the program. Be sure to identify new or modified tasks and address jobs where frequent accidents or injuries occur. What to Include in your Safety ProgramThe safety program should be an accurate reflection of the work your company performs. Review the following items to consider and include: DefinitionsProvide thorough information on terms used in the program that may not be familiar to all employees but are crucial to every day work practices. This helps employees understand what they should be doing and reduces ambiguity. ProceduresProvide step-by-step requirements for employees to learn and follow. This becomes a resource during daily activities. Use the list of jobs you prepared before drafting the program and define the sequence of steps involved for the job’s tasks. Signal the risks and hazards of the job and provide defined preventative measures employees can follow. Perform a hazard and risk assessment and determine what controls are needed. Then ensure you’ve included all steps and corrective actions in the documentation and review the program. ReferencesIf you have documents and resources available for detailed information employees can review, provide this in your program. References could include regulatory or company specific links, documents or training sessions. 4 Ways to Nurture a Successful Program ImplementationA successful implementation of a safety program requires time and commitment from employees at all levels of the organization. From senior management down to the field level employees, your safety program should be one that is carried out by everyone. Provide Access to EveryoneCommunicate your company’s health and safety objectives and goals to all employees and describe the responsibilities of the people involved. Your program must be accessible by all employees at any given time. They should feel comfortable with the contents of the program and understand how it relates to the job they’re completing. Effective Training is KeyEmployees should be trained on the content of the program. Lunch and learns, videos and classes with an instructor can provide valuable instruction and reinforcement. After training, ensure all levels of employees understand the content presented as well as their responsibilities. Keep RecordsKeep program training records for all employees and retrain annually. Proper documentation could help mitigate the liability of the company in the case of an incident and litigation. Enforcement is Necessary A well drafted health and safety program can only work as well as it’s enforced. Review the program with the executive team and prepare a plan for proper enforcement. Let ISN Help Help CenterFor current Hiring Clients, ISN’s Help Center provides answers to frequently asked questions, updates, written instructions and videos on various areas to help your company build safety culture and written safety programs. Log in now to view the Help Center. Reference Materials in ISNetworldProvided within the Review & Verification Services (RAVS) section of your account, you have access to safety videos, links to legislation and a detailed summary of the requirement as it relates to written safety programs. Log in now to review the materials. Customer Service TeamYour ISN account team as well as our customer service and RAVS teams are always happy to answer any questions and provide additional clarification if needed as you build your thorough health and safety program. Our customer service team is available via phone and chat 24-hours a day during the business week. Get Started TodayIf you are a Hiring Client and want to know more about how ISN can help you streamline your health and safety and contractor management programs, request a demo from our client development team. We will be happy to share our experience and knowledge with you as you take on the journey to improve workplace safety.