Running a Safety Program can seem quite daunting if you’ve never done it before. Please read our best practices that work with companies of all sizes and if you have any questions please Contact Us!
How to Run a Safety Program
The basics of a Safety Program are the same for companies with 3 people as they are with 3000. Get information out there in a consistent manner, and reinforce it in a methodical sense. Our Safety Programs have been built to accommodate the various sizes, and the approach is generally the same.
How big your company is determines the size and structure of your Safety Program team:
|Organization Size||Number of Employees||Number of Locations||Management Responsibilities|
Senior Manager (EH&S Manager)
Area Champion (Foreman, Team Lead)
Executive (EH&S Director)
Business Unit Leader (Senior Manager)
Area Champion (Foreman, Team Lead)
Example Organization Structure for a Program
A successful Safety Program relies on multiple actions to create maximum impact and employee engagement. A single meeting or information handout will not ensure desired results (lower incidents). Keep the following in mind when rolling out any Safety Program.
Employee engagement (not a top down approach)
All types of activities in a Safety Program are meant to speak to the end worker. This should never feel like “Here comes corporate again, forcing something down our throats”. Encourage communication, have regular toolbox talks with new material (daily is best), ask for employee experiences and stories. This should be done at a team lead / foreman and crew level. Calling everyone into a boardroom will not have the same effect as a quick 5-10 conversation in the field.
If an employee contributes, ensure that their feedback is noted and included in all lessons learned. If your company has a mechanism for employee recognition, this is a perfect opportunity to use it.
Focus on single activity at a time
Most Safety Programs will have multiple activities associated to them (example Line of Fire has Striking Hazards, Hand Safety, Crushing Hazards, Stored Energy). If you try and present and learn about all these items at the same time, or intermix them, the overall retention for each employee will be less than if you focus on one activity at a time for several weeks.
An often overlooked element, but one of the most important for Safety Programs is visual items. Putting up a poster in a lunchroom talking about all the hazards an employee could run into on a daily basis will likely just get a passing glance. Reinforcement takes several forms, which you will see in nearly every theme in this section.
Visual items should take several forms and be implemented on a schedule that matched the Safety Program activity, so that the message you are discussing at the time has that additional reinforcement. Minimum types of items should be posters, tent cards, hard hat decals and larger decals / signs in the field. Ideally, an employee should be constantly reminded of the program wherever they are working, not just in a lunchroom.
Nice bonus items are promotional materials or handouts that would happen at the start of the program or during each phase. Hardhat decals, magnets, tumblers, flashlights, apparel etc all add to the overall success of the program.
Plan the implementation of the program and stick with it! Soon employees will be anticipating the next activity phase, or that there is a toolbox talk before work starts or safety moment before EVERY meeting that they have. Consistency is the most important thing when it comes to building Safety Culture. Soon it will be expected and noted if someone forgets.
Preparation – make it easy!
Nothing can kill a Safety Program faster than asking your leads to come up with the management process and information to implement your Safety Program. Set them up for success. Give them the toolbox talks and tell them when to use them. Give them materials to put up and when to do so. Train them on what they are doing and why. This will help with making this a “non-corporate” feel, increase consistency and make it easy enough for anyone to implement, which increases the potential for success.
Before the program starts, get your current safety statistics for the types of incidents you want to prevent with your Safety Program. During and after the program ends, gather up the incidents that occurred during the program’s run and compare (if there were any!). For the incidents that did occur, include the incident investigation into the lessons learned for the next run of the program.
Without measuring, the program has extremely less value. Incidents can range from a few thousand dollars to over $100,000 in the case of a extended time off injury. This is simple toolbox that talks about the cost of an incident: The Cost of an Incident
How to Run a Safety Meeting / Toolbox Talk
Effective Safety or Toolbox talks have a consistent method of delivery. The more that the same format occurs, the more employees will expect it and understand how to engage.
- Conducting a Weekly Safety Meeting: How to Conduct a Safety Meeting
- Running a Toolbox Talk: Running a Toolbox Talk
- Safety Moments: Safety Moments
- Tips: Get the Most out of Your Safety Meeting.
Plan of Attack
Time to get the program rolling. Most Safety Programs will be built with the following structure. Depending on your company size and the program(s) you are trying to implement, this can change somewhat, but the overall structure should be followed.
Gather current statistics
Get company records / WCB records to build a list of all program related injuries. Counts are good, but totals for missing work time, costs, etc are important if they exist. The more information the better. If this information does not exist, then prepare to track it from this point onward. Measurement is very important.
Depending on your organization size and disbursement, the number and type of employees involved in implementing the program will vary. Use the charts above as a guide.
With all leads together, have a meeting to go through the program, explaining the purpose, plan, responsibilities and tools available for your team.
With larger teams, additional training is recommended to discuss the program details and expected timing and results. All activities and items should occur in a consistent manner at the same time across the organization.
(Optional) Program level product installation
Larger programs and larger organizations can benefit with adding visual products that refer to the overall program. These would be similar to a “coming soon” poster for a movie. Get your team talking, asking questions before the program starts.
Do each activity one at a time. This period can last a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending upon the detail in the activity. Do not mix activities together. One message at a time, reinforced daily throughout the organization. Build that consistency, build that safety culture!
Each phase will contain a mini-plan, consisting of implementing activity specific materials (ex: posters, tent cards, toolbox talks). At the end of each activity, remove the item and replace with the information of the next activity.
After the last activity ended, gather statistics and lessons learned. Use this information! Put into into future plans for improvement, safety programs, company emails, toolbox talks, etc. Share successes and lessons learned with your company, at all levels. Keeping more people out of the hospital and working is a major success!