A university student asked me what my take was on whether or not we should aim for zero incidents or accidents in the workplace and if this is achievable.
I realized that this was a great opportunity to spread the safety message.
The main reason why you have to aim for target zero incidents/accidents is quite simple. Can you go to your co-workers and say "I hope that only five of you get injured this year"? Can you face your children, neighbors and say "I hope that only a couple of you get hurt"?
First, we have to stop using the word "accidents". When people think about accidents, the first thing they think is "Oh, it's an accident. You cannot avoid an accident." So, people have the pre-notion that workplace accidents can't be prevented. That's why you hear the term "incidents" more and more in the occupational health & safety.
A good safety program is similar to an iceberg. Everybody can see the result, but not all the hard work that was put into it. What does it take to have a good safety program? There is no secret ingredient and/or formula or as one of my colleagues would say: "There is no silver bullet". For me, it’s like being a chef. The ingredients and the way you mix them together are crucial to the success of your safety program. If you have the wrong ingredients and/or don’t mix them well, you might not have the results you wish your safety program to have. So what ingredients are we talking about?
Safety should be part of the organization is corporate values. It demonstrates to the world your organization’s commitment to safety, from senior management down to all its employees.
Commitment from Management
Commitment from senior management is crucial to the success of a safety program. Companies accomplish this in different ways.
- Top Down Safety
- Senior management visits sites to specifically talk to employees about safety
Policies / Procedures
Employees must know what the rules are of an organization. That’s where policies and procedures come in to play. Without them, serious injuries will occur.
Near-Miss Reporting System
The goal of this system is to identify near-miss incidents. This is an imperative tool in accident prevention. Many companies have their own version of this system.
- MAP (Major Accident Prevention) program
This is part of employee involvement in the Safety program by helping management to supervise employees to ensure that everybody is working in a safe manner. Again, several companies have taken this and modified it for them.
- Mentorship program (green hand)
You cannot have safe employees if you don’t show them how to work safely. You can easily implement safety training into you monthly safely meetings (different training topics every month).
Having good communication within an organization is especially important in safety. Some companies use the following:
- Pre-Shift Meetings
- Phone Apps
- Safety Moment
- Communication Monitors
- Safety Memos
Safety Improvement Program
Like anything else in business, being able to improve as an organization is important to its growth. Same thing when it comes to safety. Organizations must always look to improve.
- 5 Year Strategic Safety Plan
Safety Audit Program
Safety Audits are always useful to help determine if there are any gaps or what I like to call them (improvement opportunities) in the organization’s program and to see how the safety program is performing.
- Leadership Safety Audits
- Internal Safety Audits
- Third-Party Safety Audits
- OHSAS 18001 Audits
- CORE Audits
How do we determine if there is a chance of someone getting injured by doing a certain task? By conducting a risk assessment. Several companies took this and made it their own.
- Take Five
- JSA (Job Safety Analysis)
- Pre-Shift Meeting
Employees must be involved in order to be successful in safety. Employees can be involved in several different ways.
- Behavior-Based Safety
- Joint Health & Safety Committees
- Accident Investigations
- Health & Wellness Committees
- Internal Safety Audits
- Workplace Inspections
- Hazard Reporting
Joint Health & Safety Committees
Health & Safety Committees are the driving force in an organization’s safety culture. They also play a crucial role in the safety program. Depending on their involvement within the safety program, they can help positively influence the employees.
Self-Assessment Questionnaire to Suppliers
Organizations are not only responsible for the employee’s safety but everyone that conducts business there as well. The assessment helps your organization to evaluate the contractor ’s safety program. Having contractors with a good safety record and program is the only option in order to improve your organization’s safety program.
You have to keep in mind that every organization is different which means that you will have to modify/add ingredients to have the maximum results for your organization. Safety is continuous, never completed, never done. And we should always strive to improve safety.
Christian Fournier has worked in the safety profession for more than 10 years. He is currently safety and training coordinator for Fornebu Lumber in New Brunswick as well as a first responder instructor trainer for Saint John Ambulance. Christian is also a member of CSSE (Canadian Society of Safety Engineering) and a director on the board of the New Brunswick chapter. He can be reached at christian.Fournier@fornebulumber.com.
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