Two Dimensions of a Safety Program

To have a highly reliable safety program in the workplace, both hazardous conditions and the unsafe behaviors that result in harmful exposure must be addressed. I read an article by Cory Worden, CSHM, in the latest Institute for Safety and Health Management (ISHM) newsletter and I think he has it right on the mark: “Within the context of high-reliability safety, all angles must be covered to ensure the safest possible work practices are utilized within the safest possible working conditions every time the process is performed.”

The safest possible working conditions will only occur when an effective safety management system includes strong “hierarchy of controls” strategy to effectively control hazardous conditions in the workplace.  All employees should be trained in the principles of hazard elimination, substitution, equipment design to reduce hazardous conditions.  Inspections, Job Hazard Analyses (JHA), and purchasing policy will all help to identify mitigate conditions in the workplace that can injure employees.  Quality, not price should be the bottom-line criteria when correcting hazards in the workplace.

The safest possible work practices will only occur within an effective safety culture exhibiting tough-caring safety leadership and accountability on the part of both management and each employee.  Managers at all levels should be educated about the importance of their role as corporate leaders and leading by example is the best strategy in demonstrating a real commitment to safety.  Employees should be educated about the importance of personal leadership through professional safety behavior.  A personal tough-caring leadership approach is required to make it happen.  Everyone should be tough on themselves by having high standards of personal behavior and safety performance.  They should be tough because they care about their own safety and the safety of everyone in the company.

Here is the bottom-line:  Only when both hazardous conditions and unsafe behaviors are effectively addressed and eliminated will the workplace be truly reliably safe and healthful for each employee and a profit center activity for the employer.

For more information on creating an effective safety management system in your workplace, check out OSHAcademy course 700 Introduction to Safety Management.