Safety is a concern for every business, regardless of industry. Posters, signs, and even discussions are commonplace in most workplaces. Yet safety still fails regularly, and often it's not because a company isn't aware of it's importance, but instead because they lost focus or missed a key step. Here are the top five reasons we've come across safety programs failing, regardless of the industry:
Lack of Commitment
Always remember any safety program begins and ends with the manager's emphasis and application. If the manager doesn't set the example, any program implemented will immediately fail. Safety should become a habit and be discussed daily, when it isn't, the lack of focus results in incidents occurring.
Lack of Objectives
Each program should always have objectives in it's approach to keeping everyone safe. Those objectives may change, but the end result should always be the same: everyone working safely. This breaks down to a discussion of your workplace and it's hazards. Discuss and implement objectives, such as a weekly safety meeting, or how new operating procedures can improve safety and quality. These discussions should include all employees.
Lack of Responsibilities
Management must communicate the responsibilities of each employee. This must be clear and concise, with daily and weekly reminders. Everyone has a role in safety, it's not reserved for managers alone. Accountability lies with every employee and their ability to easily communicate questions and concerns. Make sure everyone has an understanding of their job role and workplace awareness.
Lack of Consistent Rules
Creating a safety program is only the first step, without enforcement and reminders, any safety protocols will be pointless. This means the same standards apply to all workers and managers are never exempt. This also applies from department to department, with overall company safety rules being in place regardless of the work being performed.
Lack of a Total System
Many safety programs start out well, but they require constant involvement from every employee. This includes peace of mind to report near misses and incidents to managers, without the fear of penalty. Safety and training should always be required for employees, regardless of experience or position. The development of a training program is not enough, it requires constant and aggressive attention, which should be molded over time to meet the exact needs of your workplace.
These five areas are only the foundation, safety should be a steady evolution of change and each workplace is different. Has your company successfully implemented a solution? What worked and didn't work? The active discussion of training, awareness, and procedures is the only long term approach to ensure everyone can go home safely at the end of the day.