Another Great Year for Your Safety Program

Where has the time gone?

2008 is coming to an end fast with many lessons learned this year, from natural disasters and financial disasters alike as the U.S. economy weakens. Maintaining a program and employees' interest during a struggling economy is challenging. It requires planning and thought to get your safety message to each employee in a timely and appropriate format to keep them focused on safety at work.

While safety leaders know the upcoming year (or, possibly, years) will also mean lean program gains, more budget cuts, and a need for new methods of reaching our employees, we are up to the challenges! Start at the beginning, evaluate your program emphases (be realistic), and plan the year(s) ahead. Make a list of all of the areas you (or your corporate suite managers) have trimmed your budget, and develop creative ways to meet the needs.

For example, instead of printing annual refresher items, send out e-mail attachments where possible and document through your supervisors. Fully use that corporate intranet site, too. Consider what works at your site and expand that training method more fully. Travel and professional development training funds have been reduced for many of us, so consider more online training and webinars to keep current in the field.

Be Candid
Our mission is to get the proactive message of employee safety and health out to all employees in a useful manner. Each workplace is different, so cater to your workforce and budget limits. Maintain those really needed and required program elements and put on hold those “nice but not required” aspects of your program; yes, we all have areas that can be cut back. Employees do understand the need for budget cutbacks as long as they are realistic. Be up front with them.

All of us as safety leaders know that our efforts save lives, reduce injuries, and save critical budget dollars each year. Every life is precious and cannot be replaced. Our efforts matter in the big picture of things, and it is indeed a privilege to serve others in our compassionate service of occupational safety and health. We are a determined group of professionals who plan well for success and regroup quickly from failure. Our main success is making our entire safety success look so easy . . . . We do that very well, indeed!

Have a great holiday season and look forward with me to another challenging yet rewarding year for safety everywhere.

This article originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Linda J. Sherrard, MS, CSP, is Safety Consultant II with Central Prison Healthcare Complex, NCDPS in Raleigh, N.C., and is the former technical editor of OH&S.

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