In conducting OSHA training, I’ve found a common misperception about what a safety program policy is. When asked, attendees have repeated company mission or value statements. Some don’t know what it is or if their company even has one.
A policy statement by definition is an expectation with a consequence attached; in other words, a “work safe or else” message. A policy needs to be all inclusive and relate to a company’s safety program that has specific job processes in place and identified personal protective equipment (PPE) required.
A policy statement should read something like this:
All employees will follow all safety and health procedures, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when required. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary action up to and including verbal, written and suspension.
What needs to come after this is the “how.”
An effective safety program includes four elements: management, leadership and employee involvement, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and controls, and training:
» Focusing on employees’ behavior, encouraging them to do the right thing
» Establishing a safety committee and/or regular safety meetings
» Identifying how the organization will provide a safe environment by using a variety of methods to find and fix hazards (on-site inspections, job hazard analysis, preventive maintenance, accident investigation)
» Initial and ongoing safety training
Without the foundational policy, a company lacks a key element needed to build and maintain a strong safety program.