Step 1: Know Your Responsibilities

OK, so you’ve put together a project team to start developing your Safety Management Systems.  Have you enrolled anyone in advanced Health and Safety training, covering things like Rights and Responsibilities under the OHS Act, Implementing OH&S Management Systems and Hazard Analysis?  If not, now is a great time.  You can contact your local Safety Association like, IHSA (Infrastructure Health & Safety Association),  PSHSA (Public Services Health & Safety Association), WSPS (Workplace Safety & Prevention Services) & WSN (Workplace Safety North) or check out links on the Ontario Health and Safety Partners Website for more resources:

http://www.healthandsafetyontario.ca/HSO/Home.aspx

The CSA (Canadian Standards Association) also provides industry leading training resources on topics that may be useful during early stages of your SMS development. http://shop.csa.ca/en/canada/training/icat/training/

Sorry, no image available for Safety At Work: Implementing an Occupational Health & Safety Management System

Local training providers are a great resource for many hazard specific topics. We will touch on those resources a little later in this blog series.

Once you have planned your first meeting with the SMS Project Team, you can start to outline responsibilities of the owners, management/supervisors, workers, visitors and contractors.  Use these results to prepare a simple but clear Corporate Safety Policy Statement.

Now on to Step 2!

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So you need a Workplace Safety Revolution… Where do you start?

Know WHERE YOU ARE and Decide WHERE YOU WANT TO BE…

Changes in economic  and business development are always more effective when well planned, researched and executed with vision. Likewise, Occupational Health and Safety improvements should be well defined, justified and executed with a thorough understanding of the desired outcome. Most small to medium sized businesses in Canada make changes to their OH&S programs often as a result of reactions to negative stimulus (accidents, audits, compliance orders etc.). It would be ideal if all companies had time to properly plan and execute OH&S changes when necessary, unfortunately not many business owners have experience prioritising injury prevention initiatives and profits simultaneously, especially under duress.

Identify Gaps

In order to effectively develop, communicate and implement workplace safety goals, you first need to gain an understanding of where your OH&S gaps exist. An OH&S development project team should be put together, comprising of senior management, supervisors and workers to review any existing past or current internal/external audits.

eCompliance Audit Tool

 If reports are not available, you may choose to either perform an audit of your safety program or hire a consultant to perform the audit for you.  Being able to look back at past and current safety performance indicators including program compliance, injury statistics and WSIB costs together, should paint a reasonably accurate picture of what is working and what needs improvement in your OH&S program.

Define Present Culture

Many employers that acknowledge  they need to invest in injury prevention initiatives make the mistake of assuming their is no “Safety Culture” in their business. The truth is every company has a safety culture, unfortunately many do not have the type of positive safety culture that they desire. Understanding and moulding the culture inside your business is the foundation for defining who you want to become outside your business, in the community and to your customers. Therefore, in order to make effective and long term changes to workplace safety, your business needs to foster a positive climate for growth and stability as well as promote an engaging, transparent and supportive OH&S culture. Conducting a perception survey is a popular way to discover and measure what your people think of your H&S initiatives and culture.

Conduct a Perception Survey

A safety perception survey in an anonymous employee questionnaire that sheds an important light on the realities of working in your business environment and the perceptions workers and managers have about the level of safety on the job. They can set an important  baseline for improvements and should be customized for every business.

Survey results example 2

The questions included in your survey will help broaden your understanding of how safety works in your business. Take into account your industry, types of hazards encountered by workers, what elements of an OH&S program exist already, and the types of management styles that dominate your work environment. You can use these results to prioritise improvements and to help facilitate an engaging process of OH&S  changes.

Consider the following before you start:

-Provide an orientation to the survey before implentation.  Explain Who, What, When, How and Why

-Convey that employee feedback is important to managements commitment to improving safety

-Be prepared to hear unpopular opinions

Set Goals and Define Your Desired Culture

After you have done your analysis including both hard safety factors (inspections/audits/documents etc.) and the soft safety factors (perception/engagement/culture), you can begin to set goals and decide what legacy in safety your organization wants to cultivate.  Ask the project team important questions like; Are your employees worth going above and beyond to protect? Does your business want to attract a positive public safety perception from customers, contractors and competitors? Will you need to be a safety leader in order to keep growing or will simply meeting compliance and maintaining the “status quo” get you where you want to be?

Start by identifying simple goals that are easy to achieve. Make a big deal when you reach predetermined milestones. Gain momentum and tackle the most difficult improvements only after a track record of smaller successes. Setting the right climate to meet your objectives is the most critical step once you have defined your preferred future safety culture.

Once your organization understands where you are and where you want to be ; you can begin planning and prioritizing the next step in your Workplace Safety Revolution.

Doug Crann, Founder & President

Workplace Safety Revolution

Blog Series: Does your Company need a Workplace Safety Revolution? Intro Article

A very wise and famous movie star once said; “Do or do not…, there is no try…” This simple quote from the Jedi master himself spells out, in very simple terms the most effective way to impact injury prevention in every business. Unfortunately most businesses are so focused on “TRYING” to be safe, they haven’t even considered looking into what’s involved in “DOING” things safely.

Fact: Many companies assume they are safe employers as long as they conduct some type of regular safety training.

Fact: Most employers that provide safety training for their workers have not performed a proper hazard analysis prior to conducting safety training.

Fact: Many employers do not realize the safety training and cut & paste safety programs they are relying on to protect their company and personal liability will not provide a sufficient due diligence defense if someone gets critically injured.

At least they are trying…right? Well, trying hasn’t made quite the impact that we hoped on injury statistics over the past decade. Just ask the over 900 families of victims of Canadian workplace fatalities annually, still looking for answers to the question why?

[rev-uh-loo-shuhn]: a far-reaching and drastic change, especially in ideas, methods,etc

Real workplace hazards need to be dealt with on a case by case basis with real solutions based on evidence. A systematic approach to developing accident prevention for all businesses will save companies time, money and in the long run help avoid costly litigation in the event something goes wrong. We are seeing more organizations adopt the Plan Do Check Act philosophy, but for the most part these businesses have full time Risk Management departments or experienced safety professionals watching the front lines of their accident prevention initiatives. Most small to medium sized business can’t afford a full time safety professional let alone a Risk Management department and instead, are lead by business professionals who are experts at their trade or in business profits, not loss prevention. These businesses need to start a Workplace Safety Revolution where workers and managers join forces to stop trying and start doing what is required to protect lives.

This blog series will ask the questions that will help all businesses identify the gaps in their accident prevention initiatives. From training and policies to supervision and emergency preparedness, I hope to provide clear direction on what to do next in order to develop and manage a comprehensive Safety Management System and help your business adopt an Internal Responsibility System that will help protect your employees and your business from loss and unnecessary suffering.

Doug Crann, Founder

Workplace Safety Revolution