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May 2016

How are you managing safety? Consider implementing an Injury and Illness Prevention Program!


Pen on Injury Report Form

Is there a plan that’s right for my business?

There are many options available to employers who are seeking to improve their workplace safety. Injury and Illness prevention programs are versatile, and can be applied to any type of company or business, as well as any size. There are federal programs, offered by the Occupational Health and Safety Association, as well as state programs specific to your state’s standards and expectations. There are viable options out there, no matter your line of work. All you have to do is look.

How do these plans help?

Every plan is somewhat different. However, they all follow a similar structure; assess the workplace, identify hazards, invoke change, involve everyone, and create a safe and reliable workplace atmosphere.

For example, the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, or SHARP, is an organization that recognizes smaller businesses for outstanding workplace safety. OSHA offers an on-site consultation program through which small businesses can assess hazards, create a plan of action, and make sure they are complying with OSHA standards. This program is completely separate from standard-enforcement, meaning that the consultation representative will not cite employers for shortcomings in meeting OSHA standards. Instead, the consultation will seek to improve all facets of workplace safety, especially in high-hazard occupations.

The OSHA Challenge Program is another option for employers seeking to improve workplace safety. This program allows companies to set their own pace, and steer their own vehicle of change while still providing guidelines to help do so. Through the OSHA Challenge, participants will work with a volunteer, third party (OSHA Approved) individual through all three stages of the program.

Stage one: The first portion of the program is dedicated, first and foremost, to learning. Employers will learn what it takes to create and instill an injury and illness prevention program. In addition, the first stage will also help employers learn which areas of safety they need to improve. Workers, as well as employers, will receive training and information on the current safety standards, as well as help with developing an effective workplace safety strategy

Stage two: The second part of the OSHA Challenge is to turn plans into action. All of the learning and planning from stage one is transferred into action that will improve workplace safety.

Stage three:  Stage three focuses on refinement. Any management plans that have implemented in the first two stages should be reassessed and improved upon. There will surely be changes to make, as feedback from existing plans is analyzed.  Don’t expect your plans work perfectly right out of the gate. Use this stage to see where your shortcomings are, and cement your new program.

After completing the OSHA challenge, participants are considered for many OSHA awards based on the improvement in their workplace safety. These awards recognize companies as leaders in the area of occupational safety, and go a long way in improving company image, as well as workforce morale.

What else can you do? Do you need a program?

There are many more programs available than those outlined above, however employers can be proactive without a program guiding them. There are many ways to improve workplace safety. Creating an atmosphere that allows workers to feel safe, cared for, and respected goes a long way in improving the collaborative safety effort. Signage that prominently displays your company safety records can help boost workforce attitudes toward occupational safety. Employers can be vocal about workplace safety. Encouraging physical fitness, providing healthy food options in break rooms, and monitoring worker stamina and attitude can all help reduce accidents and improve the workplace atmosphere. The quest for a safe workplace starts with leadership. Consider taking your own steps toward a safer jobsite, and good things will follow.

Injury and Illness Prevention Programs are fantastic tools that should not be overlooked by companies wishing to improve workplace safety. These programs are the result of years of hard work and input from many industry leaders; do not discount their validity. Accidents can happen in every workplace, no matter the job type. Use these programs to assess your jobsite and tailor a strategy to combat occupational hazards for your unique situation. Occupational safety starts with a mindset, add some critical thinking and some elbow grease and the results will follow. Consider starting your program today.

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