In my last few posts, I’ve been focusing on establishing an effective workplace health and safety process. We’ve been looking at the process recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in their publication, Q & A for Small Business Employers. The process they recommend parallels the Safety Always process we use at CALMC.
OSHA recommends a five-element program, including “management leadership and employee participation, workplace analysis, hazard prevention and control, safety and health training and education, and program evaluation”
This week, I would like to focus on the second step, worksite analysis. OSHA defines this as meaning “you and your employees analyze all worksite conditions to identify and eliminate existing or potential hazards.” This continues the emphasis placed on employee involvement in the safety process.
CALMC begins the Safety Always process with a workplace safety assessment. Employees are asked to complete a written safety assessment developed jointly by CALMC and the organization. We have a prepared item bank of safety related items from which relevant questions can be selected, and we supplement those by developing items specifically related to that workplace. We than administer the assessment to all employees, analyze the results, and prepare a report for the safety teams.
Most of the employers with which we have worked have chosen to conduct a more comprehensive workplace climate assessment in conjunction with the safety assessment. CALMC provides this service at no additional charge. The climate assessment provides information to the employer and employees regarding the overall views of employees about all (or selected) aspects of the workplace.
The results of the assessment are presented to the safety teams during our first training session. The information contained will help identify safety issues and concerns identified by the employees and will be a starting point for the work of the committee.
OSHA also recommends that employers request a free OSHA Consultation visit. CALMC also partners with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to conduct an on-site safety inspection at the workplace as part of the committee training. The BWC representatives help train the team members in hazard recognition, then conducts a walk-through with the team.
We have found these walk-throughs to be extremely valuable. Employees and employers often tend to overlook conditions they have become accustomed to seeing. The visit helps identify specific problems to the team and recommends possible solutions to most of them.
Both the initial assessment and the walk-through become benchmarks for the safety committee. They can use the input from both to determine the problem areas they wish to address initially and decide on the solutions they want to implement.
Subsequent assessments and walk-throughs will serve to help assess the effectiveness of the safety process and help sustain the process and improved safety record.
The safety teams encourage their fellow employees to work safely and identify safety concerns. This is the key to sustained effectiveness of the process. As an employee in one of our safety clients put it, “It’s one thing to hear the boss tell you to do something more safely. It makes a bigger impression when it comes from the person working with you.”
The use of a trained safety committee to identify and correct workplace hazards while communicating with other employees, and the involvement of OSHA, BWC, or other safety experts, helps build an effective safety process. Visibility of the safety committee, the support of management (and the union in organized companies), and the involvement of all employees are the keys to creating an effective process.
Next time, I’ll write about the other aspects of an effective safety process. In the meantime, if you have questions about establishing a safety process in your workplace, email or call CALMC.