Effective safety and health management is about knowing how to identify and control hazards and applying key managerial principles so that your employees are working safely every day they’re on the job.
Safety starts with commitment from the top. Examples that show management commitment:
Enforce safety and health rules and work practices. These include any OSHA requirements that apply at the site and your own business’s requirements for working safely. Employees must understand them and know how to apply them.
Managers must be hold their supervisors accountable for enforcing safe practices. Supervisors must hold their employees accountable for complying with safety policies and rules. The supervisor’s overall safety responsibility is to identify hazards and unsafe work practices and correct them before an accident occurs. Effective supervisors know how to motivate employees, and when discipline is necessary they know how to apply it fairly. Important elements of safety accountability include:
Your employees should have orientation training that covers safety and health policy, safety rules, and procedures for responding to emergencies. All employees must know:
New employees must be trained before they begin work and all employees must be trained before they are assigned to jobs that expose them to new hazards. A designated qualified person must train employees at a level appropriate for their skills and in a language they can understand. Employees must be able to demonstrate correctly the safe practices associated with their jobs before they work alone.
Keep written records of each employee’s training that includes the employee’s name, the training date, the training received, and the trainer.
You can’t manage safety effectively unless your employees are involved in the day-to-day effort to keep the site safe. One of the best ways to get them involved is by having them attend weekly safety meetings. Their suggestions can help determine the resources necessary to achieve safety goals, develop training topics, and identify hazards. Keep minutes at each meeting so that you have a record of things discussed, the meeting date, and who attended.
Conduct a baseline hazard survey. A baseline survey is a thorough evaluation of the site — jobs, work practices, equipment, and facilities — that identifies safety or health hazards. A complete survey tells you where the hazards are, what they are, and how severe they could be. Perform regular safety inspections. Baseline surveys are snapshots that tell you where hazards were when you surveyed. Regular inspections tell you whether you’ve controlled the hazards and help you identify new hazards. Develop a procedure to ensure regular safety inspections of the site. A designated competent person, or persons, should conduct the inspections.
Watch for hazards. Watching for hazards is something that everyone must do. Examples of what to watch for include: unsafe work practices, missing equipment guards, and poorly maintained or defective equipment. Require employees to report hazards immediately to someone who has authority to act on the report. Look for new hazards whenever you change equipment, materials, or work processes. Assess hazards that could result from the changes and determine how to control them. If your employees work at multiple sites you may need to do a hazard assessment at each site.
Use safety data sheets to identify chemical hazards. If your employees handle hazardous chemicals or chemical products, you’ll need to develop a written hazard-communication plan that identifies the chemicals and describes how employees are informed about chemical hazards. Employees must know how to use safety data sheets (SDS). An SDS has detailed information about a hazardous chemical’s health effects, physical and chemical characteristics, and safe practices for handling. You must prepare a current hazardous chemical inventory list and have a current SDS for each hazardous chemical used at the site.
Know when and how to use personal protective equipment. Personal protective equipment is another way to control a hazard, but it’s only a barrier between the hazard and the user. If PPE fails, the user risks exposure. Today’s PPE can protect workers from head to toe, but it’s not always easy to use and can do more harm than good when used incorrectly. Before you purchase PPE, know the specific hazards it protects against and be sure that it fits the user. Have an experienced safety professional help you when you’re unsure — especially when you’re selecting chemical-protective clothing or respirators. And always train employees how to wear, use, and maintain their equipment before they use it for the first time.
Practice good housekeeping. Keep passageways, storerooms, and work areas clean. Keep electrical cords away from areas where people could trip over them. Keep floors clean and dry; use drains, false floors, platforms, or mats in wet areas. Keep floors and passageways free from protruding nails, electrical cords, splinters, holes, or loose boards.
Prepare an emergency response plan. Any job site could have an emergency — work-related, medical, or environmental. A well-rehearsed emergency plan can protect lives, equipment, and property. OSHA requires most businesses to have emergency plans; businesses with more than 10 employees must put their plans in writing. You should have well-stocked first-aid kits and a procedure for summoning ambulance or paramedic services. If your business has 10 or fewer employees, the emergency plan doesn’t have to be in writing; however, you must ensure that your employees understand the plan so they can respond promptly and appropriately to an emergency.
Maintain equipment on schedule. Preventive maintenance keeps equipment running properly, reduces downtime, and prevents accidents. Keep maintenance logs that show when the work was done, what was done, and the next scheduled maintenance date. Remove unsafe machines, tools, or equipment from service and always follow manufacturers’ maintenance requirements.
Almost all accidents are preventable and each one has a cause — poor supervision, inadequate training, or lax safety policies, for example. If you can eliminate the cause, you can prevent another accident. Develop a procedure that determines who will do the investigation and ensures that the investigation is thorough and accurate. Get statements from witnesses and others involved in the accident, then prepare a report that describes how the accident can be prevented from happening again.
Discuss near-miss incidents. A near-miss incident is a “close call.” One way to investigate near misses is to have a “no-fault” incident reporting system. For example, employees could fill out a short form that describes the incident, how it happened, and when. Discuss near misses with employees and determine how to prevent similar incidents.
Record injuries and illnesses. If your business has more than 10 employees, you must use the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300) and the Injury and Illness Incident Report (OSHA Form 301). You may not need to keep an OSHA Form 300 if your business has 10 or fewer employees, but you do need to record injuries and illnesses on the 301. Keep the records at the job site or — if employees don’t regularly work at the same site — at a central location where someone can provide information about the records during normal business hours.
At least once each year, evaluate your safety-and-health effort. Look for patterns in injuries, illnesses, and near misses. Did accident investigation reports identify causes and recommend how to control or eliminate hazards? Reports that leave you wondering why accidents happened indicate that you need to improve accident investigation or reporting.
Does the site have hazardous chemicals, respiratory hazards, loud machinery, or equipment that must be locked or tagged out during maintenance? Such hazards may require written programs — for hazard communication, respirators, audiometric testing, or control of hazardous energy, for example. Identify and review those written programs that affect your employees. Make sure they’re current and effective.
Source: Oregon OSHA
Copyright ©2000-2015 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Students may reproduce materials for personal study. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).