Developing a Safety Culture Through a Written Safety and Health Program
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), developing a strong safety culture has the single greatest impact on accident reduction of any workplace practice. Developing a strong and positive safety culture should be a top priority for the managers and supervisors at your organization.
An organization’s culture consists of shared beliefs, practices, and mind-sets that exist at an organization and form an atmosphere of attitudes that shape behavior in a positive way. The safety culture is a direct reflection of the organization’s overarching culture and the people who work in it.
The foundation of an organization’s safety culture is its written Safety and Health Program. The Safety and Health Program establishes a safety goal for the organization, and provides the roadmap to that goal by establishing policies and procedures explaining:
- Management Leadership
- Employee Involvement
- Hazard Identification
- Hazard Prevention and Control
- Program evaluation and improvement
During a recent HEC workshop, representatives from HIOSH reminded employers that organizations classified as General Industry with 10 or more employees are required to have a written safety program. Organizations that fall under the Construction classification are also required to have a written program if they have 10 or more employees, or if they are performing contract work with the State of Hawaii in excess of $100,000.
Also during the workshop, HIOSH covered the specific requirements for a written safety and health program, identifying 13 specific categories that are required at a minimum:
- Policies, procedures, and practices to recognize hazards and protect employees
- A clear goal and the mechanisms to reach the goal
- Visible top management leadership
- Employee involvement
- Assigning and communicating responsibilities under the program
- Methods to hold all employees accountable for their responsibilities under the program
- A hazard reporting system
- Accident/Near-miss investigation procedures
- Procedures for reviewing injury/illness data for trends
- Policies and procedures for periodic inspections
- Emergency procedures
- Disciplinary program
Fortunately, there are resources available to help you create an effective written safety program:
- HEC resources available on our website, include links to:
- HIOSH’s sample safety and health program and
- OSHA’s PowerPoint presentation on Elements of an Effective Safety and Health Program.
- HEC recently updated the Safety section within the Guide to Preparing an Employee Handbook.
- HR Consultant Jessica Morikone gives a short presentation on written safety plans in this episode of HEC TV .
- HIOSH Consultation and Training Branch offers free and confidential services for Hawaii companies.
- Creating an effective safety culture is an integral part of your loss control efforts. Your insurance broker should be able to guide you through the process of creating a safety program. A good first step is to review your operation with your broker, who will be able to help you determine what hazards, specific to your company, need to be addressed. Two resources that can help you get started are this article on Launching your Safety Program and OSHA’s Written Procedures Checklist for a Health and Safety Program.
Thank you to Frank Valenti of Atlas Insurance for his contributions to this article.