In last month’s article, we directed attention on improving the overall effectiveness of our safety programming by considering items #1 and #2 below:
- Safety Roles and Responsibilities
- Safety Planning and Loss Analysis
- Safety Program and Process
- Education and Training
Now, let’s consider items #3 – Safety Program and Process and #4 – Education and Training to bring our review of best practices together.
Safety Program and Process
These two elements, a written safety program (i.e., what to do) and internal safety process (i.e. how to do it), may be developed as one document. They are both necessary for internal safety standards to be established, communicated, and followed.
Many safety program templates exist that can be further customized to meet your organizations specific needs. For efficient and effective internet searches, follow this advice: If, for example, a written safety program template is needed, type into a Google search, safety program+*.doc, and then select the best template from the results.
The safety process element should be kept as simple as possible while still maintaining effectiveness. Like any successful recipe, identify the ingredients, quantities, order of addition, and any other pertinent information that will bring the best possible results. So, a safety process will include the critical steps (e.g. complete new hire safety orientation checklist, and so on). Whatever the process, keep it simple, document it, and follow it. Remember, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” -Leonardo da Vinci
Lastly, be sure to perform an annual review of all programming, and make any necessary revisions. Schedule specific dated and times to review relevant regulatory updates and industry changes.
Education and Training
Identify all safety education and training requirements by creating a matrix (i.e., safety subjects and job positions within the organization), and then schedule dates/times to complete it during the calendar year.
Next, consider the difference between education and training as explained by E. Scott Geller, Ph.D., author of The Psychology of Safety Handbook, 1st and 2nd editions:
Education – People need to understand and believe in the rationale, theory and principles underlying a particular set of program procedures, and this is commonly referred to as education. Education targets thought processes directly, and might indirectly influence what people do. Education most directly affects attitudes, beliefs, values, intentions, and perceptions. Education = Attitudes and Beliefs.
Training – Understanding, belief, or awareness is not sufficient, however, to implement a new procedure or process. People need to learn the specific behaviors or activities required for successful implementation… This requires training, and should include behavior-based observation and feedback. Training most directly affects behaviors. Training = Behaviors.
Both education and training are necessary for an effective injury prevention program, and consider the needs for these four types:
This process often includes the many aspects of the operations (i.e. work processes, paperwork, etc.), but be sure to provide a solid emphasis on injury prevention right up front. Focus on critical areas of concern, which should include past injury experience resulting in high frequency (i.e., number of claims) and high severity (i.e., cost of claims). Create the context for new workers so they have a better appreciation for the safety programming and injury prevention efforts. The company safety culture will benefit by taking time to explain and create buy-in.
Injury prevention efforts often work best with short duration and high frequency training. Content (i.e., messaging) needs to be repeated before it is fully heard and understood. It is often stated that it takes seven times to repeat a message to accomplish this goal. So, think “short duration, high frequency” while providing new examples or stories so that the material stays fresh.
In additional to regulatory-required training, supervisors should receive additional education and training to recognize hazards, perform worker observations, provide coaching to reinforce safe work habits, and help to maintain/strengthen a culture of safety. Investment in supervisory level training provides continuous positive benefits to an organization’s injury prevention program.
A well-educated and trained committee provides numerous benefits to an organization’s injury prevention program. When healthy, these teams drive safety cultures to higher levels of performance, create better worker buy-in for programming elements and foster higher levels of job satisfaction.
So, in 2018, consider improving the overall effectiveness of your organization’s safety programming by diligent use of these best practices.
Should you require assistance with safety program and process development, or safety education and training, please contact Gary Smith, CRM, at (517) 338-3367 or firstname.lastname@example.org