core elements of a safety program

OSHA’s year-round campaign kicks off their third annual nationwide event, Safe + Sound Week this month on August 12. This year’s event is focused on recognizing and celebrating the successes of businesses who have implemented safety programs. OSHA hopes to encourage businesses to refresh existing programs, and for workplaces without a safety and health program, Safe + Sound Week is also a time for participants to start one.

Safety and health programs are important for organizations to stay in compliance with regulations, and prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace. OSHA recognizes three core elements of an effective program:

  • Leadership: It is the employer’s responsibility to maintain a safe working environment free from known hazards. Without a dedicated leadership, safety can quickly fall to the wayside.
  • Worker Participation: Employees are the best source of information when it comes to the hazards associated with their jobs. Ensuring they are involved in eliminating hazards and their voices are heard will make workers more invested in the safety and health program.
  • Hazard Identification: Instead of addressing health and safety reactively, OSHA emphasizes the importance of finding and fixing workplace hazards proactively.

Just last year, more than 2,700 businesses participated in Safe + Sound Week to promote awareness about occupational health and safety. Throughout the country, organizations host public or private events with activities, training, and more.  Register on OSHA’s website to pledge your participation and explore their extensive resources.

Ready to participate? Here are a few ways your organization can improve safety during Safe + Sound Week:

Conduct a Risk Assessment: The first step in kicking off your safety program or refreshing an existing one is by assessing your facility for hazards. Take a walk around and talk with operators, line workers, and others to gain a full understanding of the hazards in your workplace. Take note of any risks you have observed and be sure to analyze hazards associated with both routine and non-routine jobs and processes.

Plan a program: If you do not already have a safety and health program in place, now is the perfect opportunity! Involve employees from all levels in the planning process and ask for their input. Listen carefully to their suggestions and ensure they feel invested in the program. While developing your safety program, remember to conduct inspections, implement hazard controls, and plan for emergencies.

5S your space: The Lean methodology of 5S includes worker participation in organizing and cleaning tool benches and work cells. Cluttered workspaces and greasy floors are notoriously hazardous and the 5S framework walks you through the process of sorting, setting, and shining spaces. 5S is primarily considered an organization tool, but remember, organization is key to safety.

Review the Hierarchy of Controls: Look at your current safety efforts and your facility’s hazards and evaluate how you have used the Hierarchy of Controls. Are you able to completely eliminate the hazard? Can you reduce the hazard with substation? If not, work through minimizing danger using engineering controls, administrative controls, or personal protective equipment (PPE).

Host a lunch: In previous years, many organizations opted for a more fun approach to safety. Providing lunch one day and hosting a trivia safety game (with prizes) can keep employees refreshed on procedures while having a good time. This is a great way to involve workers, boost morale, and may even provide valuable insights to your safety program. If you already have an effective safety program and a team of workers dedicated to improving safety, host a celebration lunch to show your appreciation.

Whether your organization needs to implement a health and safety program or your space could use 5S organizing, OSHA’s Safe + Sound Week is an event you don’t want to miss; take advantage of this occasion to plan a new program, refresh your existing program, or recognize your safety successes.

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