Three Safety Resolutions All Companies Can Aspire to Accomplish

A new year often symbolizes a fresh start and a time for individuals to commit to changing for the better. It is also during this time that organizations re-evaluate standing business practices and establish new goals, whether that is setting new financial targets or initiating employee health and wellness programs. This is also true for professionals in the health, safety, and industrial hygiene fields, who often use this time to start anew and create work safety resolutions.

As we look to 2015, outlined below are a few resolutions to consider. However, a best practice that should not be overlooked in the development of any New Year's resolution is taking a step into the past to determine what key focus areas there should be for the future as you look to reduce workplace hazards.

Pre-resolution, Review the Past Year to Identify Key Focus Areas for the Upcoming One
Prior to creating a meaningful safety resolution, you should assess current safety processes; programs and plans; and incident and near miss reports from the past 12 months to determine their performance and identify gaps where improvement is needed. Reflect on the past year and try to identify a pattern or trend of incidents (chemical spills, trips and falls, etc.) and how these incidents were handled. It is in this "look back" that realistic and relevant goals should be established for the upcoming year. If your safety program did not perform in an effective and efficient manner, what can be improved? The answer will then form the basis for developing a new safety plan – your safety resolution for the new year.

Resolution #1: Place Safety Training and Education Above All Else
The foundation of a safe environment is workers' awareness of new OSHA and industry regulations, as well as a strong knowledge of all on-site working equipment. While evolving technology in any industry may present a challenge for companies to keep up, effective education through group and individual training sessions is an essential component to a safety program. Create engaging training sessions in the new year by:

  • Highlighting core skills and demonstrating these skills to workers
  • Empowering workers to share their personal safety experiences and suggestions for creating a safe environment
  • Facilitating meaningful discussions and embracing workers' questions

For 2015, companies can resolve to promote safety through frequent formal trainings and education, in conjunction with real-time training. Senior leaders should provide in-the-moment training after a potentially life-threatening incident occurs. Try to utilize these "teachable moments" as a way to prepare front-line workers and to prevent future incidents. Make sure to stress the reasons this event occurred, the risks involved, and how it can be prevented in the future.

Resolution #2: Increase Communication Frequency
An essential component to every safety program is effective communication. In the upcoming year, focus on front-line workers' communication, specifically how they interact with each other while on site. It is imperative that if one worker sees another worker ignore a safety procedure, he or she speaks up to both the worker who conducted an unsafe practice and an on-site safety manager.

Implement a culture where front-line workers feel comfortable voicing concern. And in the event of a life-threatening incident, management should be notified by the responsible party (or parties). Management will then inform all necessary front-line workers and supervisors of the incident and how it should be addressed if it recurs.

Resolution #3: Focus on Motivating Workers
In high-risk industrial work areas, such as oil and gas, heavy metal/steel, and construction sectors, companies must ensure that workers do not become complacent. In 2015, resolve to reduce worker complacency and maintain a safe environment for everyone involved. Some tips to consider for combating complacency include:

  • Recognizing workers who comply with safety rules
  • Spending time with your team to fully understand what will encourage adherence to safety rules

For this new year, make a company-wide resolution to focus on safety. Worker safety can be challenging, and these resolutions are designed to be a starting point as your begin to discussing what your 2015 commitments will be to curtail workplace dangers.

Brad Cignetti is director of product marketing, North America, for Dräger Safety Inc. He joined the company in 2011 as a strategic product manager overseeing the North American Detection Product Portfolio.

Posted by Brad Cignetti on Dec 25, 2014