What is Safety?
The Importance of Being Proactive
by Bill Carson
I think it’s time to address safety for what it is. What is safety? I guess the interpretation is up to the individual. Is it prevention of accidents? Is it preventing insurance costs from increasing? Is it caring about your employees so that they don’t get hurt or possibly killed? How important is it to your company?
I’ve been involved with safety for too many years to remember, and I find that most companies do not put safety at the top of their list of priorities. If you’re honest, you basically take it as a “negative.” It costs money to have a safety program. It takes some employee’s time away from his other responsibilities. No one really wants the government telling him what to do. We don’t want to see anybody get hurt, but having good safety policies and procedures doesn’t become priority in most cases until an accident happens.
Eighty percent of companies don’t enforce their existing safety policies. Yes, they might have a safety manual and they might have what they call a safety director, but in most cases, they can’t afford a full-time human resources or safety director, so the employee has a multitude of other responsibilities to increase the bottom line for the company. Many companies’ safety manuals haven’t been updated in years—and won’t be unless forced by their insurance companies, an OSHA inspection or an accident. Safety policies take a back seat and are not enforced. Another problem with enforcing safety policies is the question you must ask yourself. Can you afford to lose a good employee because he doesn’t follow the company’s safety regulations? Yes, you can. An unsafe employee is an accident waiting to happen.
As employers, we have responsibilities to employees, and one of the major ones is to provide a safe work environment. It will pay off, increasing both your bottom line and preventing injuries and/or deaths.
Bill Carson is manager of Mancon LLC of Lake Mary, Fla. He has spent more than 15 years developing, managing and supervising training programs for the building products industry. As a service to SHELTER readers, Mr. Carson is available for your safety questions at 407/330-1698.
Elements of a Company Safety Program
A good company safety program must have:
• Methods and procedures for identifying, evaluating and documenting safety hazards;
• Methods and procedures for correcting safety hazards;
• Methods and procedures for providing emergency response;
• A “safety plan” including an active safety committee;
• A plan to keep employees informed of safety hazards;
• A company representative and/or safety consultant responsible for overseeing the company safety program; and
• Included hazardous materials communication. The employer must provide an up-to-date list of hazardous materials on site as well as furnish material safety data sheets (MSDS) for each hazardous material on site and show how it complies with labeling requirements.
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