1. It takes a program
A comprehensive safety program addresses every aspect of safety and every corner of the workplace. It must be documented in writing to ensure consistency in practice and over time, and it must be implemented.
2. Train, train, and then train
Safety training is not a one-time thing. Best safety practices include delivering task-specific training just before workers perform a task. Ongoing training may include sessions focused on a particular area (or to meet compliance). Annual safety refreshers can reinforce information delivered during orientation.
3. Verify activity
Any safety program should include a variety of informal and formal inspections and audits, performed by supervisors, management and safety consultants.
Investigate to identify what went wrong, not who to blame. Was there a deficiency in the procedure? Did employees receive insufficient training? Did an unanticipated situation arise? Provide suggestions to avoid similar incidents in the future.
5. Use constructive discipline
Employ discipline as a way to alter behavior and condition, rather than simply threatening someone’s employment status. The goal is to identify the incorrect behavior or action, and then retrain the employee so that he or she will act in the way the organization prefers. To be effective, discipline must be consistent, and it must be consistently applied.
6. Reward the right behavior
It’s every bit as important to call attention to good behavior as it is to point out when people fall short. In fact, because positive reinforcement tends to be more effective, having a rewards program is an essential element of a sound safety program.
7. Get it in writing
Having complete documentation will ensure that you meet OSHA’s requirements. Just as important, if your worksite is inspected by OSHA, the fact that you’ve carefully documented everything and can give it to the inspector may reduce the possibility of a more in-depth audit.
Organizations that address these elements tend to have cultures that consider safety to be very important. It’s no coincidence that they usually also have significantly lower-than-normal injury and illness rates, as well as lower experience modification rates.