It is everyone's business to maintain a safe workplace. However, emphasis is given on the responsibility of business owners/directors to prioritize the safety, welfare, and health of their employees. Fortunately, every business owner can manage the safety of their employees in the same way they manage every other aspect of their business. Unfortunately some business owners look at safety training, policies, procedures, health & safety manual creation as a cost rather than an investment in their worker force. Everything that goes into a maintaining a safe workplace should be looked at as an investment that will ultimately payoff in added production, profits, harmony in the workplace and much more.
The following 7 areas should serve as the foundation of a comprehensive safety system for every organization:
- Management Commitment/H&S Rep/Joint Health & Safety Committees
Safety begins from the top management. The commitment and genuine interest of the management to keep the workplace free from potential hazards and risks is crucial in the creation and integration of safety policies in any workplace.
The top management should initiate the creation of safety policies. Clear policies should be made to ensure that safe work practices are applied in all levels of management. Recommendations from safety meetings group, health & safety representatives or Joint Health & Safety Committees must be incorporated into the proposed policy and procedures so as to ensure that it is comprehensive enough to cover all possible scenarios, hazards, incidents, and accidents.
All employees should be given a clear idea of the consequences of not maintaining their own safety and that of their colleagues. Management could strengthen the all employees' accountability by:
- Creating disciplinary policies/procedures when expectations are not met.
- Holding supervisors and managers accountable for the safety of the people they manage.
- Holding appropriate authorities accountable for enforcing safety and health policies
- Incorporating the safety responsibilities of each employee to their job descriptions as well as -performance evaluations.
- Establishing programs that recognize the individual contributions of employees to the safety efforts of the organization.
- Holding regular weekly or monthly safety meetings to keep everyone in the know about anything new or changing in the workplace in regards to safety and safety training
Employees are in direct contact with tools, equipment, machinery, and appliances that make them vulnerable at work. It is, thus, very important to directly involve them with the efforts to minimize workplace hazards, risk of injuries and of accidents. Construct a system that encourages employees to suggest safety policies or report hazards without repercussions.
Surveys, inspections, job hazard analyses, and keeping tabs of accidents occurring in the workplace are just some of the most effective methods of identifying workplace accidents. These help not only in determining possible accidents that may occur in the workplace but also in preventing these from happening. By investigating and finding the ‘root cause’ of the accident or incident is one sure way to prevent the accident or incident from being repeated.
All employees must be given the proper workplace safety training to ensure the company is doing everything reasonably possible so that every employee is protected and goes home to their family every day.
A great tool is the ‘Continuous Improvement Plan’. The Continuous Improvement Plan shows you what the employer's requirements are for health & safety training, H&S manuals, policies, procedures, health & safety board posting documents and much more.
It's a great resource to refer too when you have any questions about the employers responsibilities.
- Hazard Control
Hazard control covers anything from integrating administrative and engineering controls to providing good housekeeping. These measures are aimed at minimizing or controlling the chances of accidents happening.
The ‘Hazard Recognition Tool’ is a used to determine hazards or potential hazards in the workplace and the steps necessary in order to mitigate them.
A workplace inspection must done by the worker rep on the Joint Health & Safety Committee (companies with 20+ employees) or Health & Safety Rep (companies with 6-19 employees). This can spot any hazards or potential hazards in the workplace and correct them before they cause an accident or incident.
- Investigation of Accidents and Incidents
Investigation is a critical component of preventing workplace accidents from being repeated in the future. This allows proper authorities to eliminate the cause, and therefore, prevent the accident from happening or from happening again. Investigating incidents is also an important practice. No-fault incident reports should be filed so that close calls with accidents do not become actual accidents. If your workers feel valued and needed than they will not fear any repercussions for reporting immediately any near misses or potential accidents waiting to happen.
- Health & Safety Training
All employees have the right to know whether they are exposed to possible hazards or not. They should also be armed with information on how to respond depending on the hazard, incident or accident. Drills, orientations, classroom training sessions, regular short preshift safety meetings as well as hands-on practical experience can give employees the training they need to respond well to incidents.
In Ontario it’s mandatory to train your workers for the job functions they will be completing. This includes, but not limited to training such as; forklift, aerial lift, working at heights, first aid, overhead crane, general housekeeping, violence & harassment, WHMIS 2015, LOTO and many more.
It is the employers’ responsibility to perform their due diligence to make sure that they have done everything reasonably possible to ensure their workers safety.
- Safety Competency Evaluation
Periodical assessment of the safety efforts of an organization makes it possible for the management to polish their safety policies. This practice also makes it very feasible for companies to enhance their safety policies.
By having your safety coordinator, safety committee or health & safety rep go over your training requirements, workplace inspections, policies, procedures and H&S manuals on a regular basis you can ensure that you will be doing everything possible for the safety of your workers, workplace, contractors and visitors.