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CIPT: Four Steps to Developing an Effective Safety and Health Management System

One question I am often asked is, “How can I make my safety program better? “ The necessary steps, although not easy, are not insurmountable. It requires management to incorporate four critical elements to develop and implement a sound and effective safety and health management system.

Gabe Garcia

Gabriel "Gabe" Garcia -- USF SafetyFlorida Safety and Health Consultant

Commit

First, it requires a commitment by management to fully adopt safety in all areas of the operation. For example, the company must involve its employees in adopting an enhanced safety culture. Employees are frequently the eyes and ears of the company. Who better to tell you how a piece of equipment works or how personal protective equipment should fit best than the ones who use it routinely. This employee engagement should also involve them with your safety committee, whose mission is to address and discuss safety issues on a regularly scheduled basis.

Implement

Another task is to implement a comprehensive and consistent worksite analysis program that will assist you in identifying workplace hazards and deficiencies. A great place to begin is by requesting an on-site consultation from USF SafetyFlorida, which can provide your company with an extra set of eyes and advice from trained professionals. You can also train and empower your employees to identify and report deficiencies they see. Daily walk-throughs, as well as weekly, monthly and quarterly inspections by the supervisor are also very effective. A simple site-specific checklist you develop will assist with the process. Just remember that self inspection, job hazard analysis and any other type of safety surveys should be documented and tracked to ensure abatement.

Prevent

Once deficiencies have been identified, your safety management system must prevent and control them from occurring in the future. By developing environmental controls, you can diminish hazard exposure. Another way is through administrative controls, such as rotating staff or minimizing exposure time. Personal protective equipment (PPE)--while important--does not necessarily correct behaviors. PPE should support the task and be fitted to the employee, not the other way around.

Train

Lastly, an effective safety management system includes a pertinent and consistent training program for all productive members in the company, including supervisory staff. The three-phase training comprises orientation, on-the-job training and retraining. Orientation begins prior to an employee engaging in their assigned task. This training is critical since it establishes the foundation for an employee's productivity. On-the-job training, the second phase of training, consists of the supervisor-employee relationship s, which can last from hours to years depending on the trade. Retraining, the last phase, is conducted periodically and repeated throughout the year to reinforce company and OSHA policies and procedures. Training can also be formal and informal. Formal training is offered through certain accredited entities including our own University of South Florida OSHA Training Institute. All safety training should be well-documented as part of your workplace safety management system.

Once you’ve incorporated these essential components--management commitment, employee involvement, worksite analysis and safety training--they must come together in a manageable, easy-to-use, well-written plan. I have seen written programs that range from complicated 400-page behemoths to one-size-fits-all. Your plan should include current and necessary information for you to accomplish your mission safely without becoming a burden. The plan must also be site-specific. Finally, incorporate a condensed version of the plan into your employee handbook.

The USF SafetyFlorida Consultation Program helps companies such as yours achieve all of this by evaluating your safety and health management system, including your administrative plans, and conducting a worksite evaluation of your company. We also offer online safety management tools such as SafetyWriter and RecordKeeper, which help you develop written plans tailored to your company.

Let us help you develop a workplace safety management system to save your employees from injury and fatality, and to save you money by lowering your insurance.

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