The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970 in an effort to reduce hazards and health threats in the workplace. In the actual language of the act, the new regulations were designed to “encourage employers and employees efforts to reduce the number of occupational safety and health hazards at their places of employment, and to stimulate employers and employees to institute new and to perfect existing programs for providing safe and healthful working conditions.”
But as experienced manufacturing managers know, real safety improvements begin and end with people, not policies, and most safety regulations are only as effective as a company’s willingness and ability to enforce them. Here are a few ways to maintain high compliance in your workplace and keep your teams safe.
1. First, make safety policies clear. In order to have an impact, every safety-related message has to be received and understood by the employees who are exposed to the hazard. A section of fine print in a 500 page handbook won’t do the trick. Post clear, visible messages, and make sure employees can see, read, or hear them.
2. Take reports and warnings very seriously. Never dismiss or assign low priority to a safety-related concern. Putting all other concerns aside in order to address a safety issue actually can actually have multiple benefits. Studies show that when employees believe their managers care about safety and address concerns promptly, levels of productivity, loyalty and retention increase. The reverse is also true: Dismissing a safety issue can demotivate and alienate talented workers.
3. Walk the walk. Make sure all managers and executives take policies seriously and obey them to the letter. Nothing undermines rule compliance like a manager who refuses to wear a hard hat in a hard hat zone.
4. Keep an open door policy and maintain discretion and anonymity on reporting issues. No employee should ever have to choose between reporting a coworker or manager for unsafe behavior and potentially watching someone get hurt in a preventable incident.
5. Provide the training your employees need, either in-house or through sponsored independent learning programs. And in the meantime, conduct yearly or quarterly anonymous surveys to assess the refresher courses or new forms of training that might benefit various teams.
For more information on how to deliver and enforce OSHA regulations in your workplace, reach out to the manufacturing staffing and business management experts at CSS.