We’re wrapping up National Safety Month (www.nsc.org ), and it’s a good time to evaluate the safety programs and policies at our organizations. Almost every company has a documented safety policy and provides at least some training on safety expectations, but it’s a good practice to remind employees that everyone is responsible for and contributes to a safe work environment. One of the ways we do that is to offer all employees the opportunity to attend training classes on safety topics that apply to our workplace. We also recognize employees who highlight a safety hazard or concern.
I’m always happy to have help finding ways to reinforce the important safety messages for our company. We rely on our workers’ compensation insurance provider for specific safety information and training materials. Our health insurance provider offers good information for general employee wellness. The organization (www.cintas.com/FirstAidSafety) that stocks our first aid kit and performs regular checks to be sure our AED unit is functioning properly, has a division that offers supplies and training, and the local safety association offers seminars and other educational classes.
As you are reviewing your safety programs, there are some basic elements to look for. While we hope never to have to use some of the safety training we provide, other elements are just good business.
- Proper notifications and postings (www.osha.gov )– these include workers’ comp notices and injury reporting policies
- Regular maintenance program for equipment – to ensure proper operation of equipment, including fire extinguishers
- Proper training on equipment usage – even properly maintained equipment can be dangerous if not used correctly
- PPE – personal protective equipment must be available where appropriate and can include safety glasses, gloves, appropriate footwear, or other kinds of basic supplies
- Ergonomic recommendations for different jobs (www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics ) – probably more common than acute injury, repetitive stress injuries, due to improper ergonomics, account for a significant amount of missed work time
- Emergency procedures – we practice fire drills with the assistance of our local fire department to be sure all employees know our expectations
- Basic first aid, CPR and AED training – we regularly certify a number of employees in these skills so they can be a resource in the event of a health emergency
One additional item that may not always be seen as part of the company’s safety program is a comprehensive drug and alcohol policy. Even with all the right safety training, programs and policies in place, an employee who is impaired at work can create significant risk. http://www.dol.gov/elaws/asp/drugfree/benefits.htm In addition to not being as efficient as a worker who isn’t impaired, an employee under the influence of drugs or alcohol has a reduced attention span, reduced focus, longer reaction time and basic motor skills are affected. Training managers to spot impaired employees is a sensitive business – nobody wants to be falsely accused. This is a good place to partner with your network of safety service providers for training.
Although June has been identified as the month dedicated to safety issues, your focus on safety should be a year-long effort. There are lots of resources to help you. Failure to maintain that focus can result in increased insurance premiums, medical care, diminished employee moral and lost work time.
Thanks to one of our Facebook followers, Chris and his colleague Melissa who writes for St. Jude Retreats (www.soberforever.net ) for the idea for this blog.