Best Ways to Boost Safety? Think Beyond Meetings and Training

Posted on Monday, February 18, 2019

What are the best ways to reduce on-the-job accidents? You may answer conducting safety meetings or providing employees with safety training. Or maybe you think that holding safety contests and implementing incentive programs is the best way to improve safety and create awareness of hazards. These actions are all important but they probably aren't enough.

Here are five safety practices that you may not have considered that can help cut workplace accidents and injuries:

1. Don't ignore near misses or close calls. A near miss or a close call is an occurrence that almost caused, or could have caused, a job-related accident, injury, or death. These incidents often aren't reported or documented. This may happen because employees feel they'll be punished if they admit being involved in an event that nearly caused an accident or injury. 

How do you overcome employees' reluctance to report near misses or close calls? You can use an anonymous reporting system and tell employees that you want to hear about hearing these incidents so you can help prevent them in the future

2. Keep employees satisfied and seek their input. Employees with low job satisfaction are more likely to be injured at work than employees who are highly satisfied with their jobs. To help with this, create a pleasant work environment. Train supervisors to make the workplace a positive place.

3. Make better hiring and employee supervisory decisions. Put the right people in the right jobs. Give employees input into decisions and more control over how they do their jobs. Ask them how they would improve safety. Employees have first-hand knowledge of workplace hazards and  conditions. They can best identify and recommend corrections for injury and illness hazards.

4. Decrease stress. Studies have shown that the more stress that employees experience, the more likely they'll have accidents.

5. Perform a safety self audit. Below is a checklist you can use as a guideline.

Walk through the work site and examine work conditions. Involve employees in this walk-through. As explained above, ask staff members for input on how to improve safety.

During the walk-through, identify:

Hazards associated with the physical conditions. Examine the structural condition of buildings and the condition of floors, stairs, exits and your fire protection system.
Mechanical hazards. Observe equipment such as machines and forklifts. If this equipment comes fitted with safety guards, note whether the guards are in place and properly adjusted.
Environmental hazards. Check for toxic and corrosive materials and for other environmental hazards. Such hazards might include excessive noise or vibrations, extreme temperatures or unusual lighting conditions. Make note of personal protective equipment that is, or should be, used by employees.
Hazards associated with work practices. Study the use, care and maintenance of hand tools and power tools. These observations are the obvious ones. Other considerations include general housekeeping practices and job training.

Review your ongoing job safety and health programs. What is the status of your safety committees, safety meetings, and in-house safety inspection programs? What is the status of your injury data? Is it up to date?

Prepare a preliminary report. Base your report on the findings of the walk-through. Include the effective practices and conditions...and those that require attention to assure maximum safety for employees. Identify any actual or potential violations of OSHA regulations, especially those that could be labeled "serious violations." Identify any actual situations that OSHA would declare an "imminent danger" to employees, as well as situations that need immediate attention to correct. Assure protection of all exposed employees. Outline a plan and schedule to eliminate or control the hazards.

Confer with top management. Supervisors should meet with top management to review and discuss the report findings and the proposed remedies. Confirm the correction period for any serious conditions discovered in the self-audit.

Write a final report. Redo the report reviewed in the meeting with top management, with changes and corrections resulting from the conference.

Follow through. Make sure that all changes and corrections are made in the agreed time frame for their completion.

Re-audit. After all changes and corrections have been made, do a re-audit from time-to-time to assure that safe working conditions are maintained.

Safety Training

What about the standard answer the question about how to improve safety — giving employees more safety training? Of course, that's valuable and can be effective. But it's not the only way. Unsafe conditions and practices often aren't the result of an employee not knowing how to work safely. Keep in mind that other factors may create hazardous conditions and innovative thinking can help prevent them.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in Dulin, Ward & DeWald’s blog is provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or legal advice on any subject matter. Before taking any action based on this information, we strongly encourage you to consult competent legal, accounting or other professional advice about your specific situation. Questions on blog posts may be submitted to your DWD representative.

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