Team Approach to Safety: The Essential Components
Integrating safety into the everyday culture of an organization can be a difficult task. We fully believe the first step in building effective safety management systems is management commitment. The leaders of the organization must be committed to seeing the workers in their facility safe at work. However, management won’t always be around, and you must be sure there are others in the organization who will champion safe working environments. A true team approach to safety is not a stand-alone procedure, but a fully integrated process for empowering workers to take charge of safety.
Why Bother with a Team Approach?
Everything we do as organizations must be driven towards a purpose or goal, right? Finding the right goal and pursuing it well is often challenging. We see far too many organizations pursue OSHA compliance as the end goal. Thinking “if we achieve OSHA compliance, we’ll have a safe environment” leaves many employers confused and frustrated when their workers are still being injured. The truth is, you can be entirely OSHA compliant and still have workers injured on the job. Shifting our goal from simply compliance to truly safe environments produces a need to have more structured approaches to safety.
Traditional Approach to Safety and Health Management
When many organizations begin to understand a need for safety, the approach looks something like this: one ‘Safety Guy’ who oversees every facility and worker within the company. Some of you reading this may be the ‘Safety Guy’ and you fully understand the weight of this responsibility. When the weight of safety falls on only one person, it will collapse. Machinery starts to fail, workers get injured and the one safety professional bears the burden.
The Team Approach to Safety
When the traditional approach starts to fail, there must be something else to takes its place. Instead of having one person to oversee all safety performance, the team approach to safety appoints teams of workers across levels and divisions to be champions for safety.
Here are the four vital components to the team approach to safety:
- Safety Professionals – It’s important to have trained, seasoned safety professionals to rely on. Having a subject matter expert who is experienced in handling OSHA inspections, specific processes, training, etc. takes the pressure off other members. This is the role Optimum plays in most of our client companies, but many organizations have an internal safety professional who can certainly fulfill this role.
- Safety Leadership Team – The basis of a team approach to safety is a key team of individuals who meet on a regular basis to discuss and solve safety issues in the facility. Size and involvement of the team will depend on the organization, but a diversified group can have tremendous results. When selecting the team, we typically look for an executive manager, operations manager, finance personnel, maintenance supervisor, human resources member and a safety professional. It’s important the people within the safety leadership team have the authority to make decisions and execute on them. Pulling together a team with no authority is sure to leave everyone involved frustrated and often becomes a waste of time.
- Safety Team Members – These individuals are charged with the responsibility of carrying out vision of the safety leadership team. Safety team members must be invested in by the leadership team to effectively train other workers. Some responsibilities we see safety team members carry are running monthly tool box talks, different training sessions, and daily procedures.
- Safety Administrators – The last component of the team approach to safety is safety administrators. These employees will hold the responsibility of documentation. Whether this includes OSHA logs, injury records, training records, and other necessary paperwork. Depending on the organization, this may be a team of a few people or there may be many involved. Either way, there must be individuals who are responsible for keeping documentations current and organized.
When these components are set in place and begin to function together, truly effective safety cultures are formed. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it requires commitment and effort from many individuals in the organization. However, the safety of workers everywhere is worth the time and effort of implementing effective processes.
Do you have questions about the Team Approach to Safety or interested in implementing this in your organization? Please contact us today and one of our team members will reach out to start a conversation!