Key Elements of a Safety Management System
Every company should have a formal, written safety program describing the company’s safety policies, priorities, and responsibilities. These written documents are meant to establish structure and consistency to the company’s accident prevention efforts. If you do not have a formal, written safety program, you are only asking for trouble. Your crew will essentially be operating without any form of guidance and your factory will be operating without a blueprint or production plan. A definitive, written safety management system is imperative to any company that does construction related work. However, just because you’ve written a safety program doesn’t necessarily mean it will be adhered to. You will have to implement measures to remind and refresh employees and supervisors on a regular basis so that they fully understand exactly what is expected of them. However, your safety management system should still be an ongoing element of production, not just something you revisit from time to time. In other words, your entire workplace should be familiar with and be able to follow accident prevention procedures at any given time. So, to better help you and your employees understand what makes a safety program work effectively, we’ve outlined the key elements that every safety management system should incorporate.
- Safety Policy Statement from Management-This should be a short, simple statement that is straight to the point. It should emphasize the importance of safety in the workplace, the safety of employees, and the fact that this is a priority and will be supported 100% by top managers in the company.
- Listed Responsibilities of Management, Supervisors, and Employees-Anyone and everyone within the company should know exactly what is expected of them. This means explicitly describing, in writing and in training, the responsibilities and duties of every manager, supervisor, and employee.
- Listed Safety Rules-Safe Work Practices should be spelled out and listed for everyone. These are basically the “conditions of employment” and are designed to prevent incidents during the production process. However, too many workers and companies forget, or neglect, these rules unless they are enforced. So be sure to enforce them.
- Disciplinary Policy-Workers who do not follow safety procedures not only put themselves at risk, but they are also endangering people around them. If this becomes a habit and the rules are not enforced, the entire concept of a safety management system essentially erodes and the workplace becomes extremely unsafe and unfit for work. Your disciplinary policy should clearly define how safety rules will be enforced. Enforcement should be conducted consistently and usually follows the “3 strikes and you’re out” concept.
- Specific Written Programs-Specific written programs and additional employee training is required by both State and Federal law for critical job site hazards. These procedures should be followed to the tee. They are designed to prevent exposures, serious injuries, and fatalities. These programs include Lock Out/Tag Out, Confined Space Entry, Scaffolding Safety, Fall Protection, and Hazardous Materials.
- Consistent Safety Meetings-Safety procedures, responsibilities, and duties will not be adhered to unless you remind your employees and supervisors on a consistent basis. A lot of hazardous industries schedule once a week safety meetings, which is strongly recommended. Any less frequent and you run the risk of your workers forgetting or neglecting safety procedures. Remember that a majority of job sites have hazards and threats that are specific to that particular site. So use your weekly safety meetings to address these issues. Also note that you do not have to wait for a safety meeting to address a safety concern.
A safety management system is imperative for any workplace or job site to run safely and smoothly. Employees need to constantly be reminded of their duties and responsibilities when it comes to safety procedures, supervisors need to be reminded of the tools and guidance they should be using to manage safe production processes, and managers should be focused on protecting their greatest asset-their employees and supervisors. Anyone and everyone within the workplace should be familiar and comfortable with safety procedures and know what to do in any situation that may arise. A safe workplace not only elevates the morale of your workers, but this will in turn increase production, efficiency, and ultimately increase your bottom line. Everyone wins!
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