Columns / Best Practices

12 ideas to improve your safety programs

Major innovations to small tweaks

Looking to improve your worksite safety and environmental health programs?  Sometimes all it takes is an idea to spark a major innovation or create incentives to make small tweaks to existing activities. In no particular priority, below are a dozen ideas to consider.

1. JSA. Every job should have a written JSA. Every written JSA should include pictures at job steps where significant hazards exist. Pictures that show appropriate PPE should be included with JSA. PPE Hazard Assessment required by OSHA may be built into JSA. Complex JSAs should be videoed with voice narrative for significant hazards. Employees should sign off that they understand the JSA and will obey precautions. Review and revise JSA as necessary following each accident investigation.

2. Machine safe guarding. Establish injury risk probability for machine safeguarding based on hierarchy of controls. See Professional Safety, January 2012 “Safe or Safe Enough” (Piampiano and Rizzo). Link to article at Concept summary:

• Very likely to occur = Behavior-based administrative controls (example PPE);

• Likely to occur = reinforced behavior-based administrative controls (example disciplinary policy);

• Possible to occur = Administrative controls + barrier or impedance (example railing);

• Unlikely to occur = single layer engineering controls (example fixed barrier guard); and, 

• Almost impossible to occur = secondary engineering controls (fixed barrier guard with an interlock).

3. Control band chemical exposures. Establish hierarchy of controls for chemical exposure based on control banding concept GHS hazard statements facilitate development of control banding. Use banding to gain support from management to prioritize improvement for chemical exposure controls. CMR chemicals e.g. GHS hazard statement “obtain special instructions before use” should fit into Band 4. Concept summary:

• Band 1 = Good occupational hygiene practices, which may be supplemented by use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE);

• Band 2  = Engineering controls, including local exhaust ventilation (LEV);

• Band 3 = Containment; and,

• Band 4 = Seek specialist advice.

4. Safety story board. Every worksite should have a safety story board located near required OSHA poster. The board should include info-graphics e.g. visual snapshots that include site safety performance e.g. injury/illness rates compared against business competitors (business names preferred over SIC/NAICS).    

5. Safety vest. Require all visitors, e.g. customers and contractors, to wear a bright safety vest at all times when they are on the manufacturing and production floors or at other areas where hazards such as mobile equipment is operated. Special visitors, e.g. OSHA compliance officers, may be assigned a safety vest with flashing LED lights.

6. Safety University. Develop and manage safety and health training under a university concept e.g. curriculum, faculty, and library. Faculty should include supervisors, HR, and “graduate” employees – not just the safety and health pro. Attendance alone should not qualify someone as being trained.  Praise your high GPA students. Provide extra attention to students with low GPAs. Build your professional library with free electronic books from the National Academies Press

7. Training passport. All contractors at the worksite should have a “passport” either in paper (small book) or preferably as scanned files of certificates on a smartphone that readily shows current training that the contractor has completed.  To work in designated areas established by the worksite, a contractor must produce a passport that shows necessary completed training e.g. LOTO, PPE, bloodborne pathogens, etc.  Develop your own passport, especially if you need to maintain the training information for certification maintenance.

8. Conference exhibits.  When time and budget are tight just spend a day at the exhibits and skip the educational sessions. Visit safety exhibits at least every three years to keep up on the latest and greatest safety innovations.

9. Third party review.  If never done before, have an experienced and multi-credentialed consultant spend a day at your worksite (budget about $1,200) to provide a confidential summary to management of the worksite’s safety, health and environmental strengths and weaknesses based on brief review of records, observations, and interviews.  Bias, institutional politics, and “can’t see the forest because of the trees” mentality limits the value of internal people conducting and presenting the review. Safety leaders should welcome the critique and not be afraid of findings.

10. Individual ISO 31000. What’s the risk of you losing your job, being passed over for a promotion, or missing an opportunity for significant career advancement? Who are the internal and external stakeholders to your career? ISO/ANSI/ASSE 31000 (Z690.2-2011) Risk Management – Principles and Guidelines applies to an individual as well as an organization. Learn about ISO 31000 the best by applying to yourself.

11. Safety neighbor.  Next door, across the street, or just down the road there is worksite where many of the safety tasks and objectives will be the same as yours. Meet your neighbor and propose mutual support. Even if you initially give more than receive, the safety neighbor will be valuable.

12. Leading indicators. What can you do but react to lagging indicators like the number of injuries at your site. Leading indicators such as the number of new safety data sheets received in previous month help your worksite be proactive to prevent injury and illness. Many leading indicators involve some measurement of all employees, materials and equipment. Ask all employees to submit suggestions for leading indicator safety metrics. Adopt the top three or four metrics and try them for a while. Maintain the most beneficial metrics and periodically roll-out new metrics.

Complacency in safety programs contributes to near-miss events, actual injuries, and job burnout. Keep the ideas flowing. 

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Recent Articles by Dan Markiewicz, MS, CIH, CSP, CHMM

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