We’ve discussed the three aspects of a world-class safety program, the importance placed on which showed the most striking difference between 2012 and 2015, according to the SmartMarket Report’s longitudinal study. Besides jobsite workers’ involvement, ongoing access to safety training for supervisors and jobsite workers, and hazard assessments and safety plans at each new jobsite, the other four significant elements include: strong safety leadership abilities in supervisors (considered essential by 82 percent of the 2016 SmartMarket Report survey respondents), regular safety meetings with jobsite workers and supervisors (80 percent), strong emphasis on communication for company and project (71 percent), and lastly, prompt and thorough incident and near miss investigations (63 percent).
Safety leaders engage with workers frequently to identify potential workplace hazards and take action to limit and eliminate such dangers immediately. Successful safety leaders must demonstrate that safety is profoundly valued and prioritized by the organization, even when under pressure of time and resources. Safety leadership is key to building a world-class safety program and a strong safety culture. An effective safety leader must:
- Be a positive role model for all other employees
- Involve and empower employees to recognize and take action in unsafe work situations
- Actively listen and practice three-way communication when giving and receiving instructions
- Grow employees through teaching, coaching, and feedback (learn the role of continuous safety training evaluation here)
- Celebrate success along the way by recognizing employees for a job well done
Safety Meetings and Communication
Management’s personal commitment to a zero-incident safety program, combined with employee involvement in occupational health and safety issues can make a great impact. Safety and health should be everyone’s responsibility. To achieve that, safety leaders need to involve all workers through regular safety meetings and transparent communication. Show them why they should care, collect and act on their feedback of safety and health programs in place, identify gaps to take corrective actions, and reinforce safety as a fundamental value of the organization. Open, informal, small group meetings are best to stimulate discussions of safety awareness and consciousness in day-to-day responsibilities, demonstrate use of protective equipment and techniques, and discuss new safety rules. Define clear reasons for a meeting, choose an appropriate meeting format, and assure active participation of all workers are three vital steps to holding a successful safety meeting.
Incident and Near Miss Investigation
To avoid further accidents, companies have to understand how one occurred, its causes and ways to avoid. Conduct investigation immediately following the accident, incident or near miss to gather necessary facts and determine the true causes. Not only would incident and near miss investigations satisfy safety legal requirements, but they will also bring to light the root causes that were overlooked to establish additional training needs or other actions to prevent recurrence. The results should then be clearly communicated throughout the entire organization, and emphasized in safety meetings for all workers to learn from past mistakes. While most companies have a well-defined process for reporting incident and accident, many overlook near misses, defined as “unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness or damage – but had the potential to do so” by OSHA. Near misses must not be taken slightly, and should be evaluated based on their potential severity. They present opportunities for companies to learn safety lessons without paying the high cost of an incident. Make it easy for your workers to report near misses without feeling afraid of being blamed.
For more details about the seven aspects of a world class safety program and other findings related to building a safety culture, join us on a free webinar with Steve Jones, author of the 2016 SmartMarket Report and Paul Colangelo, STS, CHST, CET, on November 9, 2016. Reserve your spot here: