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How Do I Build Employee Awareness of Safety?

Whether you're just starting a safety program, or reviewing an existing one, the issue of employee buy-in is central.

Federal OSHA considers management commitment and employee involvement to be one of the four basic elements of a good safety and health program. (The others are analyzing the worksite for hazards, hazard prevention and control, and training.)

OSHA emphasizes that for your safety and health program to be successful, you must see it as a part of your business operation and integrate it into day-to-day operations. Your employees' attitudes toward safety are linked to your own.

"It is essential that you demonstrate at all times your personal concern for employee safety and health, and the priority you place on them in your workplace," says the OSHA Small Business Handbook. "Your policy must be clear. Only you can show its importance through your own actions."

How can you show your commitment? Involve your employees in planning and carrying out your efforts. OSHA suggests that small business owners consider the following actions to support employee involvement:
  • Post your policy on worker safety and health next to the OSHA Workplace Poster where all employees can see it.
  • Hold a meeting with all employees to communicate your safety and health policy, and discuss your objectives.
  • Make sure that your support is visible by getting personally involved in the activities that are part of your safety and health program. For example, review all inspection and accident reports and ensure that follow-up occurs.
  • Ensure that you, your managers and your supervisors follow all safety requirements that apply to employees, even if you are only in an area briefly.
  • Take advantage of your employees' specialized knowledge and encourage them to buy into the program by having them perform inspections, conduct safety training, or investigate accidents.
  • Make clear assignments of responsibility for every part of your safety and health program, and make sure everyone understands them.
  • Give those with safety and health responsibility enough people, time, training, money and authority to get the job done.
  • Don't forget your safety and health program after you make assignments; make sure the job gets done. Recognize and reward those who do well and correct those who don't.
  • At least once a year, review what you have accomplished in meeting your objectives and re-evaluate whether you need new objectives or program revisions.
  • Institute a system where all personnel will be held accountable for following safety and health rules.
Source: OSHA Small Business Handbook
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