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5 Steps to Developing a Successful Work Safety Program

Steps to Developing a Work Safety Program

If you’re seeking a way to make an impression on your managers and instill a lasting policy at your workplace, implementing a safety program may be the answer. This is especially relevant if you work in an industry with more obvious hazards.

Still, even in the most dangerous of workplaces, injuries are abundant. According to the National Safety Council, 510 workers are injured every hour. That equates to one workplace injury every seven seconds. And, while the risk of workplace injuries will surely never be eradicated, it can be lowered.

There are five industries that are especially impacted by workplace injuries. These include:

  • Service (firefighters, police)
  • Transportation/shipping
  • Manufacturing/production
  • Installation, maintenance, and repair
  • Construction

However, food service, warehouse, and even retail workers are privy to some of the same hazards. Managers and Human Resources professionals in these industries could majorly benefit their employees by assembling a workplace safety program beyond the typical handbook protocols.

Identify your workplace’s primary hazards

Each workplace will be vulnerable to different hazards. The key to crafting the right safety program for your workplace will be knowing which hazards take priority. These will vary based on industry, geographical location, and job role.

For example, in manual labor, workers are most prone to falls, electrocution, and getting struck by/caught in machinery or other objects. These hazards are known as the “Fatal Four,” so workplace safety programs in the construction and manufacturing industries will want to orient around these hazards.

Meanwhile, the service industries will focus around other hazards. Food service workers should be trained in contamination and storage safety, retail workers should be trained in lifting and stocking safety, and all service workers should be trained on how to deal with dangerous or suspicious characters.

Knowing the hazards that threaten your workers most is essential to developing the right protocol for your safety program.

Familiarize yourself with labor requirements

Each jurisdiction has different requirements for workplace safety, as well as workplace safety training. They may require a certain number of hours for safety training, or a specific type of certification (i.e. Food Handler’s Card for food service workers).

Most of the time, however, training requirements will depend on the company executives. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers a variety of training resources, and links to training providers. In general, there are two kinds of OSHA-approved training programs: General and Construction.

Naturally, the construction industry training focuses more on hazards related to the Fatal Four, and workers in the agriculture, repair, or manufacturing industries. Meanwhile, General Industry training revolves around less-specific industries, such as health care, retail, distribution, etc.

There are 10-hour and 30-hour training courses. It’s important to determine which time frame you feel is most suitable for the welfare of your employees. As a general rule, 10-hour training courses are usually reserved for entry-level workers, where 30-hour training is recommended for supervisors and managers.

Discuss time guidelines with fellow executives and maybe even seek out an OSHA representative for input. Also consider how workplace safety training will vary based on the age of your workers and their condition. For example, disabled workers will likely abide by different labor and safety requirements.

Decide on a training format

You can either hire a training rep to come and offer an in-person workplace safety training, or you can opt for a remote, online training program. In-person training is great for centralized workplaces, where all employees work in one location. It allows individuals to get a hands-on approach to safety protocols.

However, online safety training is ideal for segmented workplaces, where offices and locations may be scattered across the country. These can be equally effective, and can be followed up with tests and quizzes to ensure employees are staying on top of their safety training programs.

Determine the interests and general demographic of your employees, and ensure you find a training format that is both informative and engaging. Incorporating activities like safety trivia, roleplay, and similar tactics might increase engagement and enjoyment.

Find the right provider

You will need to find the right provider for your workplace safety training. This involves hiring an experienced professional with a complete set of resources (be they handbooks, worksheets, or other tools).

OSHA offers a list of authorized online outreach training providers that they trust and recommend to employers. The one you will choose will likely depend on the resources they offer.

Many are primarily paper-oriented, while others thrive on live video sessions. Depending on your work environment, you’ll want to find the format that works best for your employees.

Ensure regular check-ins

Once you’ve got a safety program in place, ensure there is a continuing education procedure. Industries shift and change, so you want to find a way to keep your employees up-to-date and refreshed on their safety skills.

Annual check-ins are ideal. You can arrange summary follow-up safety courses and issue small tests and quizzes to ensure employees are staying brushed up on their safety knowledge. Based on their results on these quizzes and tests, you can determine which employees could use a refresher course.

It’s easy to develop habits that we don’t realize are not in accordance with tried and true safety practices, hence why it’s essential you (as the pioneer of your workplace’s safety venture) check in with your employees.

A safer workplace means less injuries and workers’ comp cases, which means better overall welfare for employees and executives. By being proactive in the instigation of a workplace safety program, you’ll be sure to make a lasting mark on your company’s prosperity.

Published: June 12, 2019
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