Establishing an effective safety program will protect workers, customers, and the public while launching the organization on a pathway to success.
By Will Flower

Implementing a safety program is an important step for every size company. Larger and established companies typically have decent safety programs with resources dedicated to worker protection and compliance. Smaller and startup companies should implement safety programs early in their development.

For managers seeking to establish a new safety program, there are abundant resources to assist companies as they develop safety programs. Trade organizations such as the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) have industry-specific safety materials on their websites. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also provides excellent resources for setting up workplace safety programs.

Building a Program
Beginning a safety program starts with a few simple steps.


Step 1: Build a Solid Foundation
Commit to building a culture of safety throughout the entire organization. Everyone must be involved and everyone must be committed to following safety policies and practices. Team members also need to hold each other accountable for following safety rules. The most important part of safety is to get everyone in the organization involved and committed.

Step 2: Establish Goals
Organizations should establish goals, objectives, and action plans for their safety programs. Action plans may include safety subjects that will be covered and a schedule for training. Establishing goals will allow managers to track progress during periodic reviews.

Step 3: Identify and Procure Necessary Resources
Identify the resources that will be needed for a successful safety program. Think about who will staff the program and administer training. Safety initiatives should be budgeted for and properly funded.

Step 4: Conduct a Workplace Safety Analysis
Review injury records and make a comprehensive list of safety hazards in the workplace. A thorough facility inspection will help identify potential hazards. Keep in mind that a good safety analysis will engage employees to gather insight about workplace dangers.

Step 5: Set Up Programs to Eliminate or Mitigate Risks
Once you have identified risks and threats to safety, develop plans to control or eliminate risks. This may require training, improving housekeeping, reengineering equipment to eliminate hazards, adding safety features to equipment, or improving lighting. Each action item to improve safety should be implemented as soon as possible.

Step 6: Train, Train, Train
Everyone in the organization needs to be properly trained for his or her specific job. This includes reviewing safety procedures and the proper use of equipment. The risks associated with the improper use of the equipment should be reviewed. Employees should be educated about the need for proper Personal Protective Equipment associated with various tasks. A regular training schedule will ensure that time is set aside to properly review a variety of safety subjects. Importantly, training programs and safely information should be presented to employees in a language they can understand.

Step 7: Keep Improving
Each week, set aside time with your management team to discuss safety. Talk with employees about ways to improve the program. Make adjustments and address emerging risks to keep employees safe.

A Strong Safety Culture
Remember, the most important step in every safety program is the first step. Starting with a strong safety culture will ensure that managers and workers collaborate, communicate, trust, and value the program. | WA

Will Flower is the Senior Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs at Winters Bros. Waste Systems.

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