Jun 20, 2014

Going Beyond Benefits Administration: Company Safety Policies Need Management Commitment—6 Tips to a Safer Worksite

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Editors Note: In an effort to provide the best benefits administration services to our clients, their employees, and their employees’ families in the automotive, roads, and fuels industry, the following is the next in an ongoing series of educational bulletins featuring real life events. Visit our first installment here, 6 Teen Driving Safety Tips Every Parent Should Know. Each anecdote has been taken from the archives of AWANE’s Automotive Industries Compensation Corporation (AICC) program and is designed to help inform, prepare, and protect businesses and their people from the everyday hazards within their workplace and beyond.

Why Company Safety Policies Need Management Commitment

“One of the major weaknesses I have found in the many years I’ve spent working in the workplace safety field is a lack of senior management commitment to being involved in the execution of company safety policies.” – Safety Consultant (insurance)

A lack of buy-in from upper management regarding company safety policies can have a devastating affect on a company—not only when it comes to workers compensation claims, but also in terms of overall workplace safety.

In many cases, a company will appoint a safety director or a lower level supervisor as the person responsible of oversight of company safety policies, programs, and enforcement. And while it’s important for a company to have someone in charge of overall workplace safety, if senior management ends up providing ZERO input or effort in the safety culture, then company safety policies can quickly fall by the way side.

The following is a first hand story from a workplace safety professional showing what can happen when senior management fails to commit to company safety policies:

“I was working as a safety consultant for a major insurance company. I provided a safety consultant survey to a metal machine shop and warehouse operation. I noted that in the machine shop there was a lack of enforcement for eye protection. Returning to the president’s office, I questioned the president of the company on why safety glasses were not consistently being worn. He stated that he agreed that such a policy was needed but he always had trouble with employees following the requirement. He asked if I had any suggestions to solve this safety concern, as the company had suffered several minor eye injuries over a three-year period to date.

I had noted during the plant tour that although there were signs indicating mandatory safety glasses in the machine shop, the president failed to wear the equipment when we entered the area himself. I suggested to him that the problem was with him—he failed to follow the company safety rules. I explained employees most likely did not respect safety rules, as he himself did not follow them. He indicated that he would consider my opinion.

The following year I visited the plant again. This time the president put on safety glasses prior to entering the machine shop. In addition, there were now visitor’s safety glasses available. As we entered the shop, all employees were now wearing eye protection. Upon returning to the office, the president explained that once he wore the safety glasses and issued a document reinforcing the requirements of mandatory safety glasses in the machine shop, enforcement of the policy was easy.”

Many employees need to be convinced that senior management believes in the safety culture of the business and that they are committed to maintain workplace safety. When there is a lack of communication from senior management, employees simply will not take safety seriously.

The following are six steps senior management should consider as way to become involved in their company safety policies:

  1. Communicate with employees about senior management’s commitment and involvement in the company safety program.“When I was a safety director at another company, the CEO sent out a monthly safety statement with his thoughts on how well the company was doing in maintaining a safe work environment.”
  1. Review accidents statics of the company so you are aware of the effectiveness of the programs being implemented.“In the case of the CEO listed above, the company policy for any injury involving lost time required the president of the division, safety director, senior management, and field supervisors to attend a meeting with him and explain why the accident happened. The CEO expected that everyone had done his or her job and that a solution had been developed to prevent a reoccurrence. OSHA requires that the accident log be signed by an officer of the company for this very reason.”
  1. When training or safety meetings are held, someone at a senior management level should attend and if needed, participate.
  1. Review inspection reports from insurance loss control engineers, safety personnel, and supervisors so you are thoroughly aware on what is going on.
  1. Be involved when employees fail to follow company safety regulations.
  1. Simply treat safety like any other operational side of the business.“I have never known any successful business owner or senior manager that was not heavily involved on this side of the business.”
When someone in senior management makes a concerted effort to commit to improving workplace safety, the result most commonly involves a domino effect of acceptance.

At AWANE, we strongly believe education is the key to prevention. Contact us to learn more about what other benefits administration services we offer, or to hear more about the culture of safety we cultivate as part of our AICC worker’s compensation coverage program. And don’t forget to stay connected with our Health & Wellness Safety Tips—we’re always adding more tips to help you and your employees.