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The Total Safety Zone: Safety pays you back — in a big way

By: CHUCK GIBSON, VPP Manager, Total Safety

Houston – December 2008

Did you know that improving safety increases your bottom line? It’s true. If your company puts safety first, you decrease losses and increase quality, which guarantees to advance your productivity. It’s a simple formula, but how do you get there? I can help.

The key thing to remember is that safety training doesn’t cost, it pays. By investing now in safety, regardless of the job at hand, an effective safety management program improves efficiency, keeps workers safe and reduces costly liability and loss of recourses.

Here is what I call “Seven Elements of a Highly Effective Safety Program”:

• Leadership. In the true sense of the definition, a leader is crucial for driving an effective safety program. Visible and vocal management support and activity provide the motivating force that radiates throughout the entire team. Leaders must be the example that others follow. If there’s no buy-in from the top, how do you expect other workers to respect the importance and magnitude of safe performance?

• Employee participation. Employees are the frontline for any successful safety initiative. Consider their participation as the orbit in which the safety programs rotate. Without them, safety plans are just ideas floating in space; employees are the ones who live it every day and put those compliance plans into action. Without their dedication and participation, your safety program has no chance of survival.

• Workplace analysis. A valuable and proactive safety program seeks to identify and analyze all potential hazards. The components of this type of investigation are compiled into comprehensive reports where the data is dissected and scrutinized. After careful examination of all the information, now you are able to mitigate the conditions that are currently or potentially hazardous.

But this is not effective without ongoing regular site inspections. These are absolutely mandatory because it’s the results of these inspections that are the catalyst to identify and correct unsafe conditions before they result in a mishap.

• Hazard prevention and reporting. Work force exposure to hazards (current or potential) is prevented by following a hierarchy of engineering controls, standardized work practices, administrative controls and personal protective equipment. In terms of hazard reporting, an anonymous system is the most reliable way because it allows employees to notify management of any unsafe conditions without fear of backlash or reprisal. Management, in turn, must guarantee that hazard reports receive timely and appropriate responses.

• Accident investigation and analysis. All accidents and near misses must be reported and then investigated. There is no gray area in this rule. Every successful safety program relies on this information to identify the cause of an incident and to develop a strategic plan for future revention. By analyzing the trends over time, patterns of common causes can be indentified and eliminated.

Analysis of the injury and illness data should include identification of the triggering hazard, locations of hazards and job descriptions.

•Emergency response. You can never be too prepared for an emergency because, as you know, emergencies happen any where, any time and without warning. Make it mandatory that emergency response tactics are formulated and well planned out, including as much detail as possible.

 Training is the key. Practice, practice, practice until everyone knows the drills inside and out. Lastly, triple verify that your emergency response equipment is fully stocked and in good working order.

• Safety and health training. The seventh and final element of a highly effective training program is training your staff in safety and health. This is done most successfully when incorporated into other training areas such as performance requirements and job practices. The more you build it into everyday situations, the more it will become second nature, which meets your ultimate goal of total safety immersion.

 Look for “Your Total Safety Zone” in each issue of BIC.

For more information about Total Safety or any of our industrial safety services & equipment, give us a call at 888.44.TOTAL.

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