Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How to Set Effective Safety Standards in the Workplace

This article is an account of how safety standards were set in a long-established business that had a very poor safety record. The background to this breakthrough was that the organization was heavily unionized and had proved over the last 20 years, just how dangerous it was.

The management team was not very effective and relationships with the staff were adversarial. The management team had tried all sorts of methods to persuade the staff to work safely, however, these had been ignored with quite tragic results. In desperation, the organization asked a consultant to help them.

After getting a carte blanche from the senior members of the organization, the consultant organized a committee of veteran employees who were elected by the staff members. They monitored the workplace and recorded 29 incidents and analyzed the potential outcomes.

To their horror they found that 28 of them could've been fatalities. This provided the necessary momentum to introduce other changes.

The committee of veteran employees decided which behaviors were unsafe and which behaviors were safe. In effect, they used their experience to determine a clear-cut line between what should be done and what shouldn't be done.

They communicated this to the staff and asked for input. Because the rest of the staff had been given the information about the incidents and the potential fatalities, they readily gave the benefit of their experience.

Through negotiation and discussion with all members of staff, a safe operating plan was devised and each member of staff was given a copy. At the same time it was pointed out that as conditions changed so the plan would be updated and it was the obligation of every member of staff to contribute to the maintenance.

This involvement with all the staff created an environment where anyone could point out to a co-worker that they may be at risk from the way they are working.

It took a little while for this to be accepted but then it spread like a virus. There were other benefits that were far-reaching. The organization was a national one with branches all over the country. The safety initiative was installed in the worst area.

As a result of the safety initiative damage to property and equipment plummeted. Injuries and accidents became extremely rare. Communication improved and so did labor relations.

adversarial element between the management and staff melted away as they worked towards a common objective of a safer workplace. After approximately 12 months, the branch became the top performing part of the organization.

By : Peter_L_Mitchell

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