Implementing a health and safety action plan

Your health and safety action plan will give direction to your entire EHS program. Additionally, it can provide a way to evaluate your site’s performance over time.

Breaking down your program into its components via an action plan helps drive improvement all around. The various parts of your plan should include:

  • Management and leadership
  • Worker participation
  • Hazard identification and assessment
  • Hazard prevention and control
  • Education and training
  • Program evaluation and improvement
  • Communication and coordination

Once you’ve outlined your plan, you should tackle each component individually to find areas of improvement.

Free checklist!

Use this safety audit checklist to document workplace hazards and brainstorm corrective actions.

Establishing organizational goals

Health and safety action plans should intertwine with the organization’s strategic plan for its policies, programs, and performance at the corporate level. A written safety plan serves two crucial functions: it defines and states formal expectations in management and employee safety and health performance and demonstrates management commitment to safety and health.

Before creating and communicating a safety and health plan, the company should lay the groundwork for an effective system.

First, write a mission statement that includes the concept of safety. Once you write the mission statement, document goals to support your vision.

Finally, to achieve the objectives, you need to implement strategies and tactics. Strategies lay out the tactics of “how” the organization will accomplish the objectives.

While goals are merely statements expressing a wish, objectives should include measurable outcomes obtained within a stated period. You need to gather applicable information about the current conditions at your workplace to select the specific objectives you want to achieve.

Once you set objectives, make plans to ensure the company achieves those goals.

It’s vital for every company to write a mission statement that demonstrates its commitment to safety while still carrying out the company’s vision; this will show that top management supports the company’s growth through its workers’ health and safety.

Creating an accountability strategy

Next, develop a strategy to create accountability. The strategy will improve performance through measurement and consequences. An effective accountability system first establishes formal standards of behavior and performance, then provides the resources needed to meet those standards.

Physical resources include equipment and materials, while non-physical resources include education and training. Next, there needs to be an effective system of measurement used to provide feedback to employees and appropriate application of practical consequences—appropriate meaning that consequences are justified and consistently applied to correct behaviors.

Lastly, there must be a continual evaluation of the accountability system. The evaluation could involve an analysis headed up by a safety committee or the safety coordinator, with improvements headed up by management.

Involving everyone in the planning process

A safety plan’s success depends heavily on involvement. When everyone is involved and understands their role in the plan, it becomes easier to manage and communicate the plan effectively. Safety and health policies should be effectively communicated to employees, as well as supported by employees.

It is crucial to clearly define mandatory and discretionary involvement to increase ownership, empowerment, and create opportunities for safety leadership. Examples of mandatory involvement include inspecting and reporting unsafe conditions.

Discretionary involvement could include submitting safety suggestions to the safety committee or becoming a safety committee member.

Another critical factor is that adequate resources, such as personnel, methods, equipment, and funds to meet responsibilities are available to all personnel.

Necessary resources should be exclusively within the control of the individual holding the responsibility, and all personnel should be able to apply resources in order to meet responsibilities effectively.

Training and nurturing workers

Establishing a training program for continuous education in health and safety can help to improve the skills and knowledge of everyone involved.

The purpose and topics of the training should be stated and who is responsible for conducting the training. Training should be conducted at new-hire orientation, on-the-job, before a shift starts, or whenever a new hazard is introduced.

Assessment and analysis

Corporate should conduct employee surveys to determine their employees’ perceptions of its health and safety culture. The survey results could uncover weaknesses in the current safety and health system and should be discussed directly with the employer.

In addition, injury and illness data analyses should be reported to employees, and hazard control procedures must be communicated to potentially affected employees.

An effective and anonymous hazard reporting system should be an essential part of identifying hazards. In addition, effective job hazard analyses should be performed as needed, and change analyses should be performed whenever a change in facilities, equipment, materials, or processes occurs.

Evaluation and improvement

Conducting a gap analysis is a great way to determine the program’s current state versus how far the program needs to go to improve. Similarly, your plan should ensure that all incident undergo investigation and root cause analysis.

The PDCA cycle is another tool you can use for implementing change to prevent incidents. If the changes made are ineffective and not working as intended, those changes should be adjusted with the new knowledge gained.

You could conduct a review of your health and safety action plan at least once per year. A review ensures that the plan is evolving satisfactorily and that continuous improvements are occurring.