Signs your safety program is reactive rather than proactive

Added May 10, 2021

How do you address safety at your business? Do you take a wait-and-see approach, or do you look to mitigate risks before they become problems?

When it comes to safety, a natural response is to wait and react. However, taking this approach can lead to bigger issues. Your approach to safety defines your safety program and, in turn, your entire organization because your safety program influences your company culture, employee work habits, and your bottom line.

Here are a few signs your company takes a reactive approach to safety, and some reasons why instituting a more proactive stance—through planning, education, and implementation— can help your business.

You begin and end with accident reports

With a reactive safety approach, you act after something goes wrong, such as an injury, property damage, or equipment breakdown. Oftentimes you begin your safety review by filling out an accident or incident report that explains what happened.

While it's important to document the event, when used alone, these reports often only address the immediate issue—not the surrounding circumstances that contributed to the problem.

These reports should be part of your overall safety response plan. Use them to identify what went wrong, to address the issue, and to determine necessary follow-up actions to reduce the hazard going forward. Keep in mind, the accident report needs to focus on fixing the process, not placing blame.

You haven't established a safety program or identified safety personnel

Develop a safety plan no matter what type of business you operate. Your plan should include supporting policies or procedures to help you:

  • Develop a safety statement that's signed by company management and communicated to all employees.

  • Assign a qualified employee to oversee and manage safety throughout your company, reporting directly to upper management. If your designated employee wears multiple hats, make sure they can dedicate the necessary time to focus on safety.

Organize a safety committee to assist your designated safety employee. Select individuals who represent the interests of all departments. The committee should:

  • Research and respond to safety-related requests, complaints, or comments from employees

  • Review reported injuries and monitor what you're doing to prevent similar incidents

  • Research and advise management on safety issues and recommend corrective actions

  • Meet at least monthly to promptly address the committee's stated goals

  • Provide top management with periodic status updates on safety progress, direction, and challenges

  • Communicate initiatives and activities to all employees

Get your employees involved. They know the risks they face each day and can help form a safety plan that's both effective and feasible.

Management isn't involved

Your safety program shouldn't be a “you have to do this” directive from above. A successful safety program needs leadership buy-in and the support of your managers.

Members of your leadership team should:

  • Be involved in the safety committee

  • Participate in safety planning

  • Practice what you ask your employees to do, such as following safety requirements, policies, and procedures

By getting involved, they'll better understand potential workplace hazards and, if needed, seek additional resources to help mitigate those hazards.

You don't perform safety inspections or reviews

A properly designed safety inspection can help you identify potentially hazardous conditions or practices that may go unnoticed on a day-to-day basis.

Start by reviewing the general practices you already have in place and the physical conditions of your facilities. Use a format—possibly point-based—in your inspection process to prioritize your most critical needs.

You should perform your inspections during normal hours of operation so you can see everyday conditions and practices. This also allows you to point out hazardous issues as you observe them.

Just as maintenance schedules help you keep your equipment running smoothly, regular inspections help you focus on potential problems and address them before you experience a loss.

Why taking a proactive approach matters to you

Simply put, a proactive approach can help you save money in the long run. You might have to invest money up front to implement the strategies, resources, and programs mentioned in this article. However, taking these steps can save you even more money in the future by helping prevent injuries, equipment breakdowns, lost time, and business interruption.

An employee-led safety program with leadership involvement gets everyone on the same page, working toward a common goal. A culture of safety helps improve employee morale, health, and effectiveness.

Here are other proactive steps you can take with your employees to reinforce safety measures:

  • Provide routine safety education and training to all employees

  • Offer incentive/recognition programs that reward participation and involvement, such as working safely, reporting hazards, and offering suggestions

  • Establish performance evaluations where safety is a key component

Get help if you need it

If you need help with your safety program, ask your insurance provider. Our safety services team can help create a safety program for your company that includes employee training, educational resources, and regular inspections. We’re here for you. Please contact us for more details.

Related links:

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No matter what safety procedures you have in place, accidents can still happen. Umbrella insurance provides an extra layer of protection for your business.

Learn about three critical types of business insurance coverage that play major roles in helping protect your horticultural company.

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