By Mike Schmidt, AEM Industry Advisor Editor
Unsafe practices and behaviors in the workplace can lead to a wealth of unwanted costs and consequences for a manufacturer.
While no organization is ever fully immune from being forced to deal with safety-related injuries and incidents, one willing and able to put in the time to address the root causes of these issues can benefit greatly from its efforts. More specifically, a manufacturer willing to craft and enact a comprehensive safety program will be well-equipped to overcome them and prevent them from occurring time and again.
“If you have a dangerous scenario your employees are faced with, it’s your job to identify it, to deal with, to fix it, and to correct it,” said Bruce Mosier, an insurance agent with Sanborn, Iowa-based Prins Insurance Inc. and an Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance and safety expert.
The development and implementation of a truly effective safety program is no small task for a manufacturer, nor is reviewing one in place and taking steps to improve on it. However, there are numerous benefits of doing so. A company can:
- Establish and promote a culture of safety throughout the organization
- Address unsafe practices and behaviors by employees
- Limit the prevalence of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Increase productivity
- Ensure compliance with OSHA standards and regulations
A manufacturer must prioritize safety in the workplace, which means establishing a safety program if one is not in place. Conversely, if one does exist, it must be reviewed and revised on a regular basis in order to optimize its effectiveness.
No safety program means much unless it is enforced, however. An organization must follow through with the implementation of policies and procedures to ensure all employees understand and adhere to them.
“Make it relevant,” said Mosier. “Make it a living, breathing way of life inside your business. And when the mandate comes from the top down, it helps to create a true safety culture.”
According to Mosier, three characteristics define an effective organizational safety program. They are:
- Proof of identifying – This refers to a company’s ability to identify potential hazards, issues and risks capable of threatening the health and well-being of employees on the job.
- Proof of training – This means properly training workers to avoid future-safety related problems.
- Proof of enforcement – This consists of the actions an organization is willing to take to address situations where one or more employees adopt unsafe practices, engage in unsafe behavior or violate the safety program in some other form or fashion.
The process by which a company goes about establishing or improving upon its safety program takes time, and many organizations can find it difficult to know exactly where to begin. In order to achieve the best possible results, Mosier suggested doing the following:
- Start by identifying potential hazards one at a time
- Gather safety documents for that hazard
- Train employees on the dangers associated with that hazard
- Document everything
Failure to enact reasoned and effective measures to protect employees in the workplace can have grave consequences for a manufacturer – regardless of its prior track record of safety. According to Mosier, all it takes is one moment and one mistake or oversight on the part of someone who works for the company.
“Then, pretty soon, you are in trouble,” he added.
This content was originally delivered as a CONEXPO-CON/AGG Education Session. USBs containing video recordings of all of the show sessions are available for purchase at http://shop.aem.org/c-121-conexpo-conagg-2017.aspx.