For many industries, workplace safety programs are critical to their operations. However, developing, implementing, and maintaining a workplace safety program is an enormous undertaking and it can be tough to know where to start. This five-step process outlines an approach to developing a workplace safety program that will protect your employees and work towards OSHA compliance.
Step One: Learn What’s Required
The first thing to do when developing a workplace safety program is to familiarize yourself with the workplace safety standards and requirements applicable to your industry and location. The OSHA website is a great resource for this; OSHA outlines the required safety measures for a jobsite. If there’s an association or agency that sets safety standards specific to your industry, be sure to review their standards as well. It can also be beneficial to talk to others in your industry to discuss best practices and share ideas.
Step Two: Perform a Safety Assessment
Once you’ve compiled a list of all the safety standards, measures, and requirements that are necessary for your workplace, assess your current operations and identify any hazards. This review should be thorough; it should encompass equipment inspections, policy reviews, worksite observation, and employee interviews.
Step Three: Create and Document New Safety Policies
If your workplace safety review reveals any hazards in your equipment or worksite, the first priority should be to resolve any physically present safety issues. Once those changes have been made, you can use the information and insight you gained regarding your policies and procedures in combination with your new knowledge of industry and state-mandated safety standards.
Assess where you are and aren’t in compliance with those standards. This will give you the information you need to develop new processes and procedures for your workplace safety program. Create documentation that details how to work safely with the equipment in your environment so that these policy updates are on record.
Step Four: Train Your Team
The next step is to educate your team on updates to your workplace safety program. Provide documentation of all the new policies, train them on any procedural changes, and provide the opportunity to ask questions. Make sure your workers know the safety protocols for everything you ask them to do. You’ll also need to provide training on any new equipment or tasks that arise over time, as well as offer refresher trainings to existing employees to ensure that their knowledge of safety policy is always up to date. Remember, it’s wise to keep records of all trainings.
Step Five: Perform Regular Reviews and Stay Compliant
Once everyone is fully trained on your safety policies, you’ll have successfully implemented a new workplace safety program. Remember to regularly review your safety training, procedures, and documentation to keep it current. Your safety program can be a living document that’s updated in accordance with any and all new information, whether that information is learned from experience or an update to industry standards.
Developing a workplace safety program is an intensive process and we recommend you consult with OSHA-experienced professionals with knowledge of your industry to build your program.