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How to Build an Effective Workplace Safety Policy

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All employers, whether the company has one employee or 10,000 employees, are subject to OSHA requirements. Some industries are obviously monitored more than others, particularly manufacturing and construction companies where safety is paramount to organizational stability. Although contractors, which are 1099 independents, are not subject to OSHA requirements when working for a company, potential lawsuits from injuries occurring on company owned property raise potential issues.

Therefore, policies must be established within businesses so that company profits do not sideline worker well-being. OSHA mandated policies are in place to avoid potential injuries, but violations of these policies and requirements could injure a company’s sustainability. Fines upwards of $200,000 are placed on organizations with frequent violations of OSHA rules and regulations – so creating an effective workplace safety policy is a win-win for everyone.

The question is how does one create an effective workplace safety plan – one that will help workers stay safe in the workplace, as well as cover management and ownership during a potential lawsuit? Well, here are a few starting points to developing the perfect safety policy.

Building Workplace Safety

Use Insurance Companies – Prior to creating a safety policy for your workplace, consult with the right people – insurance professionals are usually experts in safety hazards and risk-assessment. Prior to writing the plan and after completing the plan, consult with business insurance providers and ask for an inspection of your property. They will want the sale so they may even come by your location and check out the plant or factory for free – ultimately providing a risk-assessment without cost. Using this information will help you assess potential risks or hazardous elements within your operations, and you’ll be able to add those risks into your safety system.

Have an Organized Health and Safety Software Suite – Another step to take before building up your workplace safety plan is to have a way to organize it. It is incredibly difficult to know if your plan is working without hard data to compare it to, and even more difficult to organize if you don’t have the necessary software and documentation to support it. Rather than depending on word processors and excel spreadsheets, you can purchase specialized software provided by eCompliance.

Ask Employees for Input – Make sure employees know where first-aid kits, fire extinguishers, and eye-washing fountains are located within the building. When it comes to emergency procedures, your safety manual should explain proper evacuation routes and general policies. These are two areas where you really want employee input and feedback because for most businesses (outside manufacturing and construction) these elements comprise most of your safety policy. In addition, employees know their jobs and may know about dangerous situations that are otherwise missed. Employee consultation is essential to writing down all the potential hazards of your workplace; when in doubt, write it out.

Make It Simple – People rarely perfect complexity because higher-brain function takes extreme focus and dedication. Many of your workers have other things to think about and are not worried about perfecting an elaborate safety plan. Therefore, general, useful concepts should be the foundation of your safety manual. Specificity will sometimes get you in trouble – especially if there is a potential lawsuit and your policy does not cover a particular incident that occurred in the workplace. It is better to be broad and have an excellent lawyer to help sell the interpretation. As for safety, simple instructions are usually the best instructions for future compliance.

Create A Policy Statement – Visiting www.labour.gov will help you on this one. In addition, OSHA has potential templates for you to follow when creating your policy statement. Just like your companies mission statement, a safety policy statement is an effective way to communication the organization’s commitment to worker health and safety. When creating this report, you can either use a template as discussed previously, making the statement standardized with your specific information as a “fill-in-the-blank”, or draft the statement yourself from scratch. Either way, a concise policy statement should reflect management’s support and positive attitude towards health and safety programs for the protection of all workers. Make sure the ownership or management team signs the document to solidify the commitment.

The writer, Matthew Hall, is the health and safety coordinator for a small construction firm operating in California. Interested in making sure every body is safe, sometimes he’ll write about tricks he has learned to make sure other business owners can have as safe a working environment as what he provides. To learn more about Matthew you can visit Google+.

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