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Donna Pearson trains employees on safety culture.
How to Develop a Safety Culture vs. A Safety Program
Process Cleaning, Donna Pearson Chadwick
Anyone can write a safety program, but it takes a real commitment on the behalf of everyone involved to create and implement a complete safety culture. The goal of developing a safety culture is to instill the qualities that motivate workers to strive to achieve safety excellence and can only be developed if everyone on staff works together. Just as a group is only as strong as its weakest member, your staff is only as safe as the least concerned worker. A safety culture creates an environment in which every worker is personally committed to his or her own safety as well as every single one of their colleague’s safety. A real safety culture is a complete change in attitude that becomes part of the individual’s lifestyle and daily habits, whether at home or at work.
Safety CulturesSafety cultures are ever-evolving and unlike a safety program, it is not a one-time
accomplishment. A safety culture is a philosophy to keep at the center of daily activity for
everyone involved in your plant or project. Rather than simply writing a set of policies,
procedures and reports, it’s important for companies to include safety in the every day
mission and strategic plans. A safety culture is an investment in which every company
should take seriously and when done properly, should implement the following strategies:
safety programs, drug free workplace, risk management, accident investigations, continual
training, material safety data updates, OSHA visits and assistance, and jobsite/plant inspections. In order to assess your company’s needs to create a culture specific to your
operation, it is important to work with a safety consulting company that will work hand in
hand with you to meet and implement a safety culture that will exceed your goals for years
Within a safety culture, safety must always come first and take into consideration
everyone involved. Safety procedures must not simply be done in compliance in the hopes
of avoiding an accident, nor should accidents ever be seen as something that happens as a
part of life. Accidents must always be viewed as preventable. Site audits of contractor
projects and plant facilities should be completed for compliance and reported directly to
management. This enables owners and managers to be pro-active with their safety program
and provide input at the management level. In turn, employees are assured that
management is diligent in keeping their work sites safe. A proper safety culture should set
their standard at zero accidents, as setting a target that includes any at all actually condones
even one accident—that is unacceptable.
ImplementationThe implementation of a safety culture is an ever-evolving commitment a company must
make to consistently keep current staff on target as well as when training new employees.
When working with a safety consulting firm, look for new hire orientation programs that
provide annual training required by OSHA for all current and prospective employees, both
onsite and online. The programs should be an annual requirement, as they are an excellent
safety refresher course for even the most safety conscious employee.
Look for a safety consulting company who will be a true partner and work with you
monthly to do regular safety culture checks on such things as ascertaining the average
number of projects per year, number of employee turnover, any special training to fit your
market niche and annual OSHA required training. Another goal of your safety partner is to
help lower your Experience Modification Rate (EMR), which is a factor that measures the safety record of a company. Therefore, understanding your EMR and monitoring it
regularly is key in reducing your Workers’ Compensation costs. It is also an excellent
measure of how your loss prevention and control practices stack up to others in your
industry. Your safety consulting company should keep confidential loss-run insurance
information and EMRs to help monitor and reduce accident exposures and potential
raise in premiums when it comes time to renew business insurance the following year.
Develop the Best StandardsSafety should never be viewed as a business risk or cost. In fact, upon developing the
best standards for your workplace, a safety culture should be a risk free and profitable
venture. In fact, by implementing and maintaining a real safety culture within your
business, you should see your modification rate (MOD) drop considerably resulting in
reduced premiums. The modification rate is meant to adjust w/c premiums with a companies past experience with workers comp claims. The industry standard is 1.00
which, in general, is the average claims experience of similar size employers operating
in the same industry. Generally speaking, a company with a mod rate less than 1.00 has
had less claims experience than the average, conversely, a company with more claims
experience has a higher rate. The worker’s comp mode rate is calculated based on the
company’s last three years of safety, accident and claims data For example, a company
with an EMR of 0.88 receives a 12 percent credit on their workers compensation
premiums whereas a company with an EMR of 1.15 will be charged a surcharge of 15
percent on their premiums. A safety culture that produces lower EMRs provides a
win/win situation at every turn.
Above all, proper and continual education on safety is a prerequisite to developing a safety culture. When you need training, remember to work with a company that proves to be an expert and has implemented meaningful, pertinent and practical training sessions using innovative and attention-getting training tools.
Remember, by implementing a safety culture, your overall costs will not go up, and ultimately, you will see a savings all around. It’s important to keep your employees at the center of your operation, and in doing so, your business will benefit for years to come. A safety culture must never waiver, and must always remain strong in implementation and continued education and awareness.
Donna Pearson Chadwick is the founder of Pearson Safety Services (PSS) (Jackson, TN). PSS is division of Jabezco Industrial Group, Inc., a diversified company that seeks to enhance industrial services in many fields. Some of PSS Training Courses Offered include: 10hr/30hr OSHA, CPR/First Aid, Blood Borne Pathogens, Hazard Communication, Forklift, OSHA Record Keeping, Drug Free Workplace, Ergonomics, Excavations, Scaffolding, Rigging, Confined Spaces and Lock Out/Tag Out. Donna is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP). She boasts more than 20 years of experience in the safety field, and in 2002, she earned her CSP recognition, the highest recognition by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. She can be reached at (731) 660-8863.