printech, January, 2004
Safety Management Program

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From:Gary Jones( )
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2004 10:25:14

FYI - From Occupational Health and Safety at

Building a Safety Program from Scratch

These good ideas or "do's" will help a new safety staff person tremendously. by Linda F. Johnson

Whether we were a new graduate just entering the safety field, a Human Resources person suddenly tagged "IT" as the safety contact, or a seasoned war-horse in the safety arena, many of us have faced the uphill battle of developing and establishing a comprehensive safety and health program-- essentially beginning with nothing but an empty office and a chair.

Overwhelming? It can be. Making a lot of plans will help. Asking questions also will help. The best advice is to keep it simple to begin with. One of the most common mistakes made by new safety and health programs is to get way too advanced too fast. It overwhelms the workers, the system, and the management, and it creates unnecessary stress on the safety professionals who suddenly find themselves in the middle of a firestorm of "safety stuff."

Many have the idea safety is easy and anyone can do it. This is a misconception, however, because safety is highly technical in nature and paper-oriented, and verification is critical for almost every action taken.

There are several good ideas or "do's" for a new safety program person that will help tremendously. These include:
• Do know your authority, including immediate work stoppage and firing ability. This will save confusion and finger-pointing in the long run.
• Do know whom you report to within the organization. Your authority is directly linked to this position.
• Do watch out for the whiners. Every new safety professional is confronted by an aggrieved worker who wants someone else to fight his battle for him. Be aware and avoid being used for other peoples' or departments' agendas.
• Do have an established budget. Identify exactly what you are to accomplish and earmark money for your efforts. Set up expected costs. Then, double your budget. Safety almost always costs more than you planned, and it is nearly impossible to gather more money "hat in hand" after the original budget is approved.
• Do gather the existing documents (or copies of them). There are safety efforts already being accomplished throughout the company; your job will include finding these items and gathering all of the documentation into one effort so it can be maintained.
• Do evaluate your facility for all safety- and health-related programs that are needed. Make a laundry list of all programs the company should implement. Establish a critical list of things to be done and continue to prioritize items as you go down the list. Update the list as necessary.
• Do be realistic. Pace yourself, as well as the implementation of a program. Pushing too hard too fast can create a negative backwash very quickly and tear a fledgling program apart. Workers never like to be forced into any action or new program. Prepare them for the new programs long before start date in order to warm them to the idea.
• Do inform employees, supervisors, and management of your role. Nothing is worse than being challenged from the workers as to your authority and a justification of your role. It takes time for your name and position to be known.
• Do keep safety efforts fresh. Try different approaches to training and rotate your efforts in order to keep the program sharp and looking fresh and new.
• Do keep management involved. Report to them on a regular basis--whether daily, weekly, or monthly--about your efforts, accomplishments. and challenges.
• Do use the safety programs yourself. Not wearing appropriate safety PPE will kill your credibility fast! Practice what you preach in the safety field.
• Do keep staff and management informed. Regular updates as to what is being implemented, accomplishments, cost savings, and such are important mile markers for employees and management alike.
• Do set up and keep good records of the program. If you begin with good recordkeeping, it is easier to maintain. One of the primary wheels in the safety machine is documentation for all programs, training, and injuries.
• Do try different types of training for your programs. Hands-on training, skills training, video, classic classroom, or computer-based--all have a place in the program. Use what works.
• Do ensure all special needs for training are met. This may include training geared to workers who are visually or hearing impaired, have other physical handicaps, or are hampered by illiteracy or a limited grasp of English. Plan ahead for these situations to avoid a last-minute problem.
• Do set up training sessions ahead of time. This ensures adequate visibility from employees, shows professionalism on your part, and helps provide quality workshops each and every time.
• Do use high-quality visuals, the best the program can afford. If you can not afford new, rent or borrow visuals such as videos, etc.
• Do provide written evaluation and feedback methods for all training and program elements. Every session should be evaluated in order to maintain the consistency of your training.
• Do evaluate and critique your own efforts on a regular basis. Self-evaluation is sometimes painful, but it is a necessary tool for advancing your own efforts as a safety trainer.
• Do have fun! Safety is truly a compassionate service to others and is really a positive force, despite all the negative feedback and "thou shalt not" associated with programs. Concentrate on those efforts that improve employees' safety and morale. Such efforts spill over into all you do.

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