Effective Safety Management Systems By Optimum Safety Management

Effective Safety Management Systems By Optimum Safety Management

As an OSHA safety management consultant, Optimum Safety Management has a specific, proprietary process in place for helping clients implement, execute and maintain effective 5-step safety management systems. An effective system’s first priority is to keep workers safe, but it can also reduce costs and improve profits for businesses who take it seriously.

#1 Management Commitment

Management commitment is the cornerstone of safety management systems. Without buy-in from the top, the system will fail. What drives management commitment?

  • Unfortunately, a catastrophic incident or injury that causes management to get committed to safety. Don’t let this happen. Get committed to safety before fatalities occur.
  • Negative metrics around safety, such as your DART rate. Use your NAICS code to benchmark your company against others in your industry on the BLS.gov website. Your EMR rate is used by insurance companies to determine how much you pay for Workers’ Compensation premiums. If rising costs are having a negative impact on your bottom line, better safety measures can lower your EMR and rates.
  • Morality. Unfortunately, this often plays a small role in motivating management, but keeping employees safe should be a top priority for implementing a safety management system.
  • OSHA. If nothing else, management should fear being taken to task by OSHA. The current administration has given OSHA more power than ever and they are back in the enforcement business.
  • Increase in Workers’ Compensation costs. Management will take notice as rising rates impact the bottom line.


Understandably, management will come up against some hurdles once they decide to commit to a safety system.

  • Cost. Doing work more safely is not without additional costs. Equipment and processes may need to be upgraded, PPE purchased, training conducted, etc. However, we almost always see a ROI once safety measures are in place as productivity costs are reduced, incident rates lowered, EMR rate improved and workers comp rates lowered.
  • Safety programs should be developed when they are in the “not urgent and important” quadrant of Jeff Covey’s Time Management Matrix.  You want to be able to look at the big picture and develop a well-planned program.  Don’t wait to manage your safety once it hits the “Urgent and Important” quadrant after an employee is injured or OSHA is knocking.  If you set up your Safety Management System, processes, and procedures when they are “not urgent and important”, you can spend more time preventing incidents and injuries, and less time reacting to them.
  • Knowledge. When HR, operations, and engineering people are tasked with safety, it’s difficult to know where to start as they are not safety experts. OSHA 30 hour hazard awareness is a great class to begin with, drilling down to specific training based on your facility. Developing a safety management system theory will help management and leadership understand how safety fits within their overall organization and why it’s important. Train the trainer courses are ideal for supervisors who will be responsible for training employees.

#2 Program Development

Next comes the actual development of your safety program.

  • Safety & Health Manuals. Contain all of your processes and procedures.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Hazard Assessment. What equipment do your employees need in order to protect them from hazards?
  • Job Hazard Analysis (JHA). This is required by OSHA, but it is a critical starting point for your program development as well. Look at every task and process within your facility for hazards, and build controls to protect against hazards.
  • Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedures. These are critical for large equipment with multiple power sources.

#3 Training

The training portion of your system implements your processes and procedures. Both new and existing employees must be thoroughly trained based on their department and job description.  You can’t expect your employees to follow procedures that you haven’t properly trained them on.

Initial Training – New hire orientation, culture of safety, general company safety requirements.

Specific Training – Department orientation that includes training on equipment such as aerial work platforms, forklifts, LOTO, etc. Use a matrix of job descriptions and training requirements to ensure all employees receive the correct training.

Ongoing Training – Monday morning weekly Tool Box topics to keep safety fresh in the minds of employees. Ideal opportunity for compliance training.

#4 Safety Surveys

Your site safety surveys ensure safety measures have been implemented and are being used.  You must inspect what you expect.

OSHA recommends “frequent and regular inspections” and you will determine what this means to you based on the hazards at your facility. In many cases, we recommend inspections are conducted:

  • Per shift, as operations managers walk through the facility and look for safety gaps.
  • Weekly cross-departmental inspections.
  • Monthly upper management walkthroughs.
  • Annual inspections by a 3rd party for compliance gaps. Consider how objective safety professionals can use their knowledge and experience to help you improve your safety program.

#5 Corrective Actions

When gaps are found during the inspection process, corrective action measures must be taken.  This could include employee discipline, updating processes or procedures, fixing equipment, purchasing new equipment, or other solutions that make the work environment safer. Many times this is where Safety Management Systems may fall short as this is the true test of Management Commitment.

Your number one priority is to run an effective safety management system. Secondarily, you want to have a solid defense plan in place for when OSHA does show up.

If OSHA comes in and sees a safety and health standard violation, you have four opportunities to defend yourself:

#1 Do you have a program in your safety manual to protect against the hazard?

#2 Have you effectively trained your workers on the hazard and proper safety procedures?

#3 If this is the first time you’re seeing the violation and you didn’t have the opportunity to correct it, but you take prompt corrective measure at that moment, can you prove it has never happened before?

#4. You can prove that you have enforced the rules via inspections and disciplinary action.

Optimum Safety Management Has Your Back

If you’ve been tasked with your facility’s safety management system, there is a lot to learn. Optimum Safety Management can help you develop an effective system from start to finish and beyond, providing valuable resources and helping you update your processes as laws change or your company’s needs change. Call 630-759-9908 to get started with your free consultation.