With over 270 million occupational accidents world-wide, safety program development has become an essential part of maintaining supreme health and safety (Ilo.org). Yet sadly, some safety programs are only implemented once, functioning merely as a safety net for employers. This way, if an accident does occur, those in charge can mitigate responsibility, instead claiming that the injured must not have followed safety protocol. In reality, authentic safety programs should not be implemented only once. Rather, they should constantly be inspected, critiqued, and developed.
Having a safety program that is constantly in the redesign process might initially sound difficult, but the difficulty exists only in theory. It is not as if employers or managers are spending all of their days drafting or editing programs. Instead, safety programs should seep into the overall work culture, meaning if a safety hazard presents itself, managers and staff can immediately assess the situation and quickly redesign protocol to cover the new hazard.
With this approach, safety program development becomes an extremely easy, fluid, and dynamic process of identification, assessment, and maintenance. In order to exemplify its dynamic, evolving nature, lets explore some of the recent trends in safety program development.
Building an Observable Safety and Health Culture
Establishing an observable safety culture is one of the latest trends in developing safety programs. With this method, employees are not just casually going over rules and regulations, but actively participating in the development and implementation process. Thus, the safety culture approach transcends typical safety programs – which, in some cases, has been as simple as an hour long informative PowerPoint – by establishing safety protocol as a key component of the overall work environment.
It is important to note that establishing a successful safety and health culture depends predominately on employee involvement and organization. Employee involvement typically comes naturally if the implementation process is sound and well thought out. Therefore, the major focus here is organization.
To organize a safety culture, it is often best to break the initiative down into its respective segments, the most common of which are worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and training.
As apart of a safety and health culture, worksite analysis is a fairly intuitive process. Throughout the week, employees will go about their daily tasks and simply make note of any potential safety or health hazards that they may come across. If minor, they can make a note of them to bring up at another time, or if major, they can immediately address and resolve the situation.
Hazard prevention and control functions in a fairly similar way, but is distinctly different in that hazard prevention defines how employees will conduct their duties. Thus, employees will perform tasks with a prevention-first mentality. This way, safety and health hazards will be internally addressed and controlled, which completely removes the potential for external manifestation.
Due to a safety culture being generally intuitive in nature, training becomes necessary only for new techniques or employees. Therefore, safety training is essentially parallel to typical work training, meaning that it’s only required in novel, informative situations.
Internal collaboration has played a huge part in safety program development. Through this method, employees can individually identify ways their safety programs can progress and improve, then share these ideas with their team. From there, ideas and concepts can build until the entire team has agreed upon a specific safety technique, method, or protocol to implement.
For successful internal collaboration, it is important that couple ground rules are pre-established. These can vary depending on the work culture, but it is generally important to make certain that concepts, ideas, or suggestions are not deemed “stupid” (or any other derogatory term) as the main objective of collaboration is to build upon ideas, not sham them.
Latest Platform for Internal Collaboration
In the past, internal collaboration occurred through meetings or conferences; yet, these meetings were often extremely time consuming and ineffective. Now, in our technology savvy culture, there are a number of innovative platforms that save time and increase overall inefficiency.
One of these platforms is an internal team messaging system called Slack. Within Slack, managers can set up an individual channel called “Safety Program Ideas” where team members can share and expand upon ideas on their own time. As one may assume, Slack is a great, yet subtle way to involve employees in the program development process. For example, sometimes employees may feel uncomfortable expressing ideas in a meeting or to a boss or manager. With Slack, the pressure is completely off as employees don’t have to worry about their ideas being immediately shut down or laughed at.
For an extremely effective development system, managers can implement the internal collaboration concept into their overall safety culture. But remember, the key to successful safety programs is not having a myriad of components, but rather simplicity, participation and top-notch organization.
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