HAPPENING NOW! 2017 Safety Excellence Awards
It is a new year and time to start thinking about the NAWIC Safety Excellence Awards again! This is a prestigious award given to companies who have established safety as a core value, and who have taken measurable steps to increase the safety culture within their organization. If your organization has been proactive in the areas of safety and health, please nominate them for this award!
The application is due to your Chapter Safety & Health Chair by the recommended date of Feb. 1, 2017, but each chapter is free to determine this due date. If your chapter does not have a Safety & Health Chair, then submit the applications to your Regional Safety & Health Chair by the due recommended Region due date of March 1, 2017.
Please read the application carefully, as the Committee has made some small updates after revising the application last year. To account for a potential tie, lagging indicators will be used, along with proper business letter etiquette, as a tie breaker. While the industry as a whole is moving away from lagging indicators, they can be useful in the event of a tie.
3-Part Series: Where to Begin? Creating & Implementing a Strong Safety Culture. Part 3: Communication and Enforcement
(con’td. from Dec. 2016)
Continuing on from the previous articles, I want to pick up with communication and enforcement. Now that you have identified organizational strengths and weaknesses, and have created safety policies, procedures, and standards to be implemented within the company’s practices, it is imperative to communicate these clearly to all employees. I would suggest holding a company-wide safety meeting, and make it fun. Have a pizza party, have some door prizes for desirable items, show some funny videos along with some for shock value (I’m a fan of shock value because it is very effective when it comes to generating safety buy-in). Then have company leadership speak from the heart to all employees regarding the creation of a new safety program, and most importantly, “why” the company is doing so. It is for them! To ensure each and every employee returns home to his/her family safely every evening. This form of communication does MUCH to elicit emotional buy-in from employees, because they feel the company genuinely cares about them. It is very important to explain the new program to employees (in their own native language, if different from English). It is management’s job to clearly communicate expectations, requirements, new requirements, policies, procedures, and disciplinary measures that WILL be taken if the new program is not adhered to. It is not fair to employees to begin enforcing a program that they do not clearly understand.
From there, training is imperative! The organization must train employees on all work tasks, as well as new procedures to be implemented. If employees do not receive training on these new policies, they will not implement them properly.
Lastly, there must be a disciplinary policy in place to deal with non-compliance. This is the most difficult aspect of a safety program for managers to embrace, but it is a critically important part of an effective safety program. The best of all programs will fail without this component. In fact, OSHA considers a safety program to be ineffective and non-compliant with the new Safety and Health Management Guidelines (SHMG) if there is no enforcement.
An effective enforcement program is a ladder-program, one in which employees are given fair warning, re-training if necessary, and a chance to get it right, before termination. It is important to document every disciplinary action necessary however, even if it is a verbal warning. Without documentation of enforcement actions taken, OSHA considers there to be none, and will cite as such. This is one reason I work very hard with clients to ensure there is always a record of disciplinary action taken for every safety violation that has been noted. OSHA does look very carefully for enforcement actions when deciding on how severe the violation types and associated penalties will be, when reviewing inspection appeals. If the company has a good record, a strong safety program, and good documentation of training and enforcement actions, OSHA will issue a lesser violation type (willful, serious, other-than-serious, repeat) and a smaller penalty.
Don’t be discouraged if after implementation of your new safety program, you do not see results right away, or if things seem to get worse! This is normal, as there is typically a small group who will resist. Unfortunately, this group is typically your most experienced employees who have been doing their job the same way for 20-30+ years. Most people do not like change, and you must be prepared to lose a couple of employees along the way. It is inevitable. The good news is that you are taking steps forward to eliminate the sources of risk to your company, because the employees who will not work safely and/or compliantly, are a huge risk to your company, from both safety and compliance standpoints! I frequently encourage clients at this stage that this is part of cleaning house, and reducing liabilities and risk. This is a huge step in the right direction for any company that is serious about creating a strong safety culture, and a stellar safety record. Stay focused on the goals, and you’ll get there! After a year or so, you will look back at where you started and be amazed. With consistency, the wheels will be rolling effortlessly after 2 years, and you will only need to tweak, maintain, and update your program. Of course, remain on guard against complacency at this point, and apply Total Quality Management principles to your safety program to keep it fresh and relevant. Feel free to contact me for more help or advice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will upload the entire series, the OSHA SHMG, and additional resources to the Safety & Health Awareness Committee page for your reference.
Congratulations for taking the first step! And remember that consistency is key! Consistently safe work practices deliver consistently safe and compliant outcomes.
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