For industries dealing with crude oil, toxic chemicals, heights or dangerous machinery, the workplace poses many potential dangers. While you as the terminal, project or company manager, might not be able to eliminate potential threats, you can certainly work to reduce workplace dangers.
This is where a safety plan comes in. A plan should illustrate the dangers on a particular site, instruct which tools and equipment should be used on the job, and how to properly use each. It should also illustrate the correct way to do the task. For example, the right position or the way to reach (when working with heights) that will minimize injury and maximize quality.
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, depending on the company, job tasks and dangers encountered while on the job, the safety plan might be difficult to put together. You also have to put it into writing, and then thoroughly educate everyone at the company about the plan.
There’s much to consider and it’s a big task — but well worth it. Your workers are the company’s best asset, so it pays to look after their safety and wellbeing. There are a few steps to getting to a successful safety plan, starting with first identifying the factors that can get in the way of implementing one.
Barriers to a Safety Plan
An important step in creating a safety plan is to understand the barriers that may compromise the success of an otherwise solid plan. This step will not only help to maintain the safety of employees but will, more importantly, ensure the plan will actually be applied.
You can have a rock-solid plan, but if other factors are contributing to the improper use of the plan, it won’t do much good. So once you’re able to recognize those barriers, you’ll be better able to address and eliminate them accordingly. Below are some of the big ones.
Communication: Key to any relationship, including those between employees and employers, communication will help get out the importance of the plan. A lack of communication about the plan will surely lead to accidents and injuries.
Likewise, if an employer doesn’t communicate that worker safety is something they’re deeply concerned with, the employee won’t feel appreciated or cared for. In those cases, many might cut corners or perform tasks unsatisfactorily, no doubt leading to on-the-job injuries.
It’s vital for the company to clearly state the expectations for performance and safety measures. Additionally, upper management should fully understand the goals of the safety plan and how it will maintain the wellbeing of workers, keep costs down and raise job performance.
Time: Safety plans are important and often mandatory for jobs that involve on-site dangers. But it’s important to understand that it does take time and energy to create one. Many companies don’t consider just how much time they’ll need to build out an efficient safety plan — making the lack of time itself a barrier.
While it does take time, it is well spent. If you take the time upfront to develop a plan that will do everything it can to keep workers safe moving forward, you won’t have to spend time, energy and money later if an injury or death occurs.
Lack of Understanding: A general lack of understanding as to why the company needs a safety plan or the lack of knowledge that one even exists will certainly cause the plan to be ineffective.
We understand it might be difficult to receive the support for a safety plan from an entire company. However, if everyone — from the worker doing the potentially dangerous tasks to the company accountant — understands how and why a solid plan keeps workers safe, saves and increases work quality, they’ll all likely get behind the idea of implementing one.
Lack of Training: Last, but certainly not least, you can’t expect workers to implement the plan and take it seriously if they themselves haven’t had the proper training. After the plan is in place, training comes next, which is arguably the most important aspect to determine the success or failure of the safety plan.
Training should be extensive and communicated to each worker in a language they can fully grasp. Companies need to take the time to ensure that every worker fully understands, acknowledges and can implement the safety precautions before they are assigned to the job. Proper training will lead to the proper use of safety equipment and machinery, and to workers following safe standards.