2015 is quickly approaching, and with the arrival of the New Year many people will be making New Year’s resolutions. This year, in addition to resolving to eat better and go to the gym more frequently, try making some resolutions for your safety program, too. Having clear goals as you approach 2015 can help you make plans for a safer and more successful year.
Need some ideas for good safety goals? One of these five could work for your facility or give you a jumping off point for a goal tailored to your specific workplace and employees.
1. Get Organized
A good first step to improving safety is to get organized. A messy workplace can lead to slips, trips and falls, cut or puncture wounds (from sharp objects left out in the open) and wasted time spent looking for tools and materials that are out of place.
5S is a method for organizing the workplace that can help you accomplish this task and make your workplace more efficient at the same time. 5S stands for Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. This system originated in Japan and it is a set of steps that allows you to assess the items you have in your workplace (or a specific work area) to determine which ones you really need (Sort) and reorder them logically based on when and how frequently they are used (Set in Order). Then you regularly clean and organize your workplace (Shine) and develop a system for keeping items in the correct locations (Standardize). Finally, you focus on maintaining the organizational system you’ve created (Sustain).
Introducing this methodology into your workplace can help engage your workers in basic organizational tasks, and doing so will help prevent needless accidents related to clutter.
2. Be Prepared for New Requirements
The New Year will bring several new regulatory requirements, and educating yourself and getting prepared will help your safety program continue without any hiccups.
First, new accident and injury reporting rules go into effect January 1. Currently, OSHA only requires employers to report accidents that result in a fatality or three hospitalizations. Beginning in January, businesses will need to report any accidents that result in one or more hospitalizations, as well as any amputations or losses of an eye. By lowering the bar for what must be reported, OSHA hopes to capture a better picture of workplace accidents and use that information to do a more effective job of improving safety conditions nationwide.
This change will potentially require submitting more information to OSHA, but if you gain an understanding of the basic rules at the beginning of the year, the rest of your year should go smoothly.
Second, OSHA has been in the process of updating its Hazard Communication Standard to reflect the guidelines from the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System (GHS). The new system has specific requirements for labeling hazardous chemicals and for what information must be included in their safety data sheets.
Chemical manufactures must have GHS-compliant labels and documents in place by June 1, 2015, so companies that handle chemicals need to be ready for the changes. That date might still be half a year away, but by planning ahead in the beginning of the year, you can make the transition more easily. Consult our recent post about GHS labels for more information about the details of the changes.
3. Make the Workplace Easier to Navigate
While your company’s safety programs may have many facets, you ultimately want safety to be easy for workers to achieve. Making the workplace more visual can help with this goal.
By implementing visuals such as safety signs, labels and floor marking tape, you can communicate hazards and directional information quickly. As a result, workers and visitors will find your facility easier to navigate.
For example, if your workplace has a lot of forklift traffic, you could use floor marking tape to create traffic lanes for forklifts and lanes for pedestrians to reduce the possibility of a collision.
You could also post labels near dangerous work areas reminding people to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
4. Increase PPE Compliance
Speaking of PPE, the New Year is a good time to assess your company’s protective gear. Is your eye protection and hearing protection appropriate for the tasks and noise levels of your workplace? Are your gloves and protective clothing in good condition?
Consider whether any of the PPE you have needs to be replaced and whether newer models might better serve your workforce.
It’s one thing to have the right PPE, but it’s another thing to get employees to wear it. To increase compliance, you might consider including workers in the selection process for PPE. You should also have fit tests to make sure the PPE works for everyone. Just because a certain style of safety glasses works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for all employees. You could also provide more than one style option for certain types of PPE so your workers can choose the option they feel most comfortable with.
5. Make Safety a Way of Life
Sure, making safety a part of the culture of your workplace is easier said than done, but making this a goal and setting out some concrete steps to help you work toward a positive safety culture is a worthwhile endeavor.
First, plan to talk about safety. Schedule regular meetings to discuss safety as a group and instruct supervisors to discuss safety on a daily basis. Encourage near-miss reporting by avoiding unnecessary punishments for accidents and using these incidents as opportunities to learn from mistakes and improve.
You can also introduce lean manufacturing ideas such as kaizen to your workplace. Kaizen asks everyone to continuously look for small problems that could be fixed. You can apply this idea to safety by asking workers to identify anything that could lead to safety issues and bring these things to everyone’s attention.
Whatever methods you choose, make them specific and stick to them. Broad goals are difficult to achieve, but by taking a few concrete steps in the right direction, you can make 2015 a more successful year.