A safe workplace should be an integral part of every company’s vision statement. Not only do we have a moral obligation to see safety is maintained, but having a proper, professional safety program in place can potentially save you a fortune in liability and damages down the line.
The philosophy of workplace safety can be broken down into 8 statements:
1. Safety is an Ethical Responsibility
At its core, ethics holds up a positive vision of what is right and what is good. It defines what is “worth” pursuing as guidance for our decisions and actions. Workplace injuries and deaths are too often seen in the abstract as statistics. But when it happens to someone we love, we suddenly see the reality of the horrible pain and suffering and its widespread effect. It is our ethical responsibility to do what is necessary to protect employees from death, injury, and illness in the workplace. This is the only foundation upon which a true safety culture can be established in any workplace.
2. Safety is a Culture, Not a Program
The combined commitment and participation of the entire organization is necessary to create and maintain an effective safety culture. Every person in the organization, from the top management of the corporation to the newest employee, is responsible and accountable for preventing injuries.
3. Management is Responsible
Management’s responsibility is to lead the safety effort in a sustained and consistent way, establishing safety goals, demanding accountability for safety performance, and providing the resources necessary for a safe workplace. Managing safety is the responsibility of every supervisor, from the first line supervisor to the Chairman of the Board.
4. Employees Must Be Trained to Work Safely
Awareness of safety does not come naturally; we all need to be trained to work safely. Effective training programs both teach and motivate employees to be a productive part of the safety culture.
5. Safety is a Condition of Employment
The employer must exhaust every reasonable means to lead, motivate, train, and provision employees to maintain a safe workplace. But, in the event the employee refuses to take the actions required to work safely, the employer must utilize a system of progressive discipline to enforce safety requirements and ensure the cooperation of the employee or the removal of the employee from the workplace in order to protect the employee and their co-workers.
6. All Injuries Are Preventable
Sometimes accidents occur without the apparent indication of fault or blame. But there is always some chain of events that occurred leading up to the accident that, had we realized the eventual outcome, someone could have interceded. The fundamental belief that injuries are, by their nature, preventable is a catalyst that encourages us to prevent injuries.
7. Safety Programs Must Be Site Specific, with Recurring Audits of the Workplace and Prompt Corrective Action
The purpose of the workplace audit is to discover and remedy the actual hazards of the site before they can injure workers. Recurring hazard analysis, comprehensive inspections, and aggressive investigation of accidents or near misses, discover potential workplace hazards and identify weaknesses in safety plans, programs, policies, and procedures. Safety regulations and generic safety programs are not sufficient means to discover hazards because they are not specific to the individual workplace. A safety audit program is site specific. Whenever a safety deficiency is found, prompt action is required both to overcome the hazard and to reinforce the message that safety is a priority.
8. Safety is Good Business
Reducing workplace injuries and illnesses reduces the costs of workers’ compensation, medical expenses, potential government fines, and the expenses of litigation. Effective workplace safety is not an expense; it is an asset.