By Ethan Davis
The safety policy statement is a beginning, but certainly not a complete program. A comprehensive Safety Program should be developed for your organization. Also, irregularly executed inspections or safety meetings and brief spurts of executive interest are no substitute for pro-active, consistent, and visible management support and leadership for a well planned and executed safety program.
Top management needs to lead and set a positive example. If the safety program is a "low priority" for the CEO, it will likely be a "low priority" for employees. Low priority will mean inadequate attention, and that will sooner or later result in an accident, or accidents that can disable, maim, or kill.
OSHA's "General Industry Digest" notes that management commitment and employee involvement are "complimentary and form the core" of any safety program. The book provides several recommendations for achieving these two goals. Recommended actions that bear directly on drafting the safety policy include:
Stating the work site policies on safety and health clearly.
Establishing and communicating safety goals and defining objectives to meet that goal.
Assigning and communicating responsibility for all aspects of the program.
Reviewing program operations at least once a year so that deficiencies can be identified and revised as necessary.
Make sure your program assigns responsibility and accountability to all employees in your organization. A good safety program makes it clear that every employee from you through the supervisory level to the line worker is responsible for his or her part in the program. You should make their safety and health duties clear and each of them should be held accountable for his or her safety and health related duties. Accountability should be built into job descriptions, performance reviews, and daily interaction in the workplace.
Management at all levels should accept responsibility for the organization's injury rate and should provide proactive, visible leadership on safety management. They should also provide the resources required to design and implement a safety program that meets at least the legal requirements at the state and federal level.
For employees, accountability should include adherence to safety rules and procedures, and prompt reporting of any hazard.
Employees must be involved in all aspects of the program from the beginning. They are the people most in contact with the potential and actual safety hazards at the work site. They will have constructive input into the development of your safety program. The ultimate success will depend upon their support - support that will be more forthcoming for a program which they have had meaningful input.
Your safety policy should be tailored to fit your organization’s corporate philosophy, needs, and culture.