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The formal safety program is a set of written documents that describe a company's safety policies, priorities, and responsibilities. The program is designed to bring structure and consistency into a firm's accident prevention efforts. Without a written document, you might as well have a construction crew without a blueprint, or a factory without a production plan.
However, just because a safety program is written, doesn't mean it is always followed. To be effective, everyone on the management team must understand what is expected of them and safety must be an ongoing, essential part of production. This means the entire workforce must have an occasional reminder of what accident prevention is all about. Key safety program elements are:
1. Management's Safety Policy - This is usually a simple but important statement, emphasizing that the safety and well being of employees is of the highest priority in the firm, and will be fully supported by top management.
2. Responsibilities of Management, Supervisors, and Employees - Safety responsibilities at every level of the organization must be clearly defined in writing and in training, so everyone has a fair and equal chance to live up to what is expected of them.
3. Safety Rules - A list of specific Safe Work Practices must be established for the safety of each individual and all co-workers. These "conditions of employment: can prevent accidents during production--but workers and companies often tend to forget them, unless they are enforced.
4. Disciplinary Policy - When any individual fails to follow established safety rules, the entire work team may be at risk. And when rules are ignored by many, the idea of consistent safe work practices "goes down the tube." The disciplinary policy defines how safety rules will be enforced fairly and consistently. The typical policy is a form of "Three Strikes and You're Out."
5. Specific Written Programs - Federal and State laws also require that critical jobsite hazards must be controlled through specific written programs and extra employee training. These include programs in Confined Space Entry, Lock out /Tag out, Fall Protection, Scaffolding Safety, Hazardous Materials, etc. Strict procedures are necessary to prevent exposures, fatalities or serious injuries, and must be followed to the letter.
6. Safety Meetings - Responsibilities and safety procedures are rarely followed by everyone without an occasional reminder. Like the vaccinations we got as kids, we all need booster shots for a good "take." Most worksites have a variety of hazards to discuss, and safety meetings provide this opportunity. Many hazardous industries hold them weekly. Remember, though, you needn't wait for a safety meeting to correct a potentially hazardous situation.
Why a written safety program? As workers we need to know what is specifically required of us, to perform our job safely. As supervisors we need the tools and guidance to help us manage a safe production process. As management, we must continually protect our greatest asset--the workforce.
Safety is a teamwork effort. Let's everyone remember the important part they play!
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