Implementing a health and safety
plan in the workplace
Blog » Implementing a health and safety plan
Health and safety plans can be used to give direction to the overall health and safety program. In addition, they can provide a way to evaluate the program’s effectiveness over time by tracking trends to show what is being implemented well and what is not.
For the health and safety program to be successful, it may be easier to break down the program into multiple areas of focus to assess further the aspects of the program that are doing well and aspects that need more work.
These include management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification and assessment, hazard prevention and control, education and training, program evaluation and improvement, and communication and coordination for host employees, contractors, and staffing agencies.
These areas would then be addressed separately to determine what the organization is currently succeeding at or areas that may have been overlooked.
Safety 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 the mission statement is written, goals and objectives are then documented to support the vision expressed in the mission statement.
Finally, to achieve the objectives, strategies, and tactics must be implemented. 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. Applicable information must be gathered about the current conditions at your workplace to select the specific safety and health objectives you want to achieve.
Once you have set objectives, plans must be made to make sure 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.
Next, a strategy needs to be developed 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.
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.
Education and training
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 & improvement
A gap analysis should be conducted to determine the program’s current state versus how far the program needs to go to improve. Incidents must be investigated for root causes and corrective actions issued to improve systems.
Practical corrective actions need to be evaluated to ensure they are working as intended. Implementing change to prevent incidents can be described in the form of Plan-Do-Check-Act. If the changes made are ineffective and not working as intended, those changes should be adjusted with the new knowledge gained.
A review of the overall health and safety management system should be conducted at least annually. A review ensures that the plan is evolving satisfactorily and that continuous improvements are occurring.