How to decrease workplace incidents

The only way to decrease incidents in the workplace is to be proactive with prevention. As the ancient proverb goes; 

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." 

While there are many ways to be proactive, you will need to be consistent and communicate expectations clearly when implementing proactive measures. Review the following list of safety suggestions as a guide to starting your system of incident prevention.

1. Formalize safety policies and procedures. 

Create a safety handbook that lists out the steps that must take place to prevent incidents in the workplace. Include instructions for;

  1. Storing dangerous and toxic items
  2. Pre-use equipment inspections
  3. Safe work procedures
  4. Pre-work safety inspections
  5. Near-miss or close call incident reporting
  6. Schedule for regular safety briefings, toolbox talks
  7. Substance abuse program
  8. Safety performance reviews

Check out this on-demand webinar on creating a safety culture of excellence to start this process off right!

2. Make someone accountable for safety. 

Discuss the current safety policies with your safety coordinator, and work on a plan to ensure buy-in and compliance. Confirm that the safety coordinator is aware of all the responsibilities connected with safety. Let your support be known to this person and decide to discuss concerns and solutions to further incident prevention monthly.

3. Communicate expectations for a safe work environment. 

Let staff know regularly that safety is a significant concern. Do this verbally but reiterate expectations in a documented form. Post this safety information throughout your workplace.

Words are one thing, actions speak louder. If a safety hazard is encountered, move quickly to remedy it. Waiting too long only increased the chance of an incident. It won't correct itself and don't assume that someone else will correct it.

Ask employees for suggestions about improving workplace safety. One safety coordinator is surely helpful, but a handful of lookouts is always preferable. Collect anonymous input from employees which they can fill out at their discretion.

4. Regularly inspect your facility with your safety coordinator. 

Make sure that your team is following safety policies at work. Check areas that are of concern to observe safety guidelines being met. If you observe something non-compliance, document it and bring it up with the safety coordinator as soon as possible. Plan a meeting with all the staff to communicate the concern further and ensure that it does not happen again.

5. Provide the right tools so there is no need to improvise. 

Asking employees to improvise shows that your actions don't match your words and signals that you don't take safety seriously.

For example, if you use a storage area with high shelving, supply a safe ladder or step-stool so that staff are not forced to climb on boxes to retrieve items.

6. Schedule reviews of all risky scenarios.

Scenario reviews should involve examples using mechanical equipment and tools if available. The type of exercise will depend on the kind of operation. Some operations such as restaurants and warehouse facilities will have different scenarios than construction.

Schedule these reviews in new employee orientation and revisit them regularly. Workers will be reassured knowing that the company takes their health and safety seriously.

7. Conduct Daily Toolbox Talks

Toolbox talks or safety meetings inform workers of safety rules, equipment handling, preventive practices and urges the worker to follow standard operating procedures.

Regular toolbox talks promote safety awareness as workers get exposed to a variety of safety topics and actively reduces safety risks. Most organizations conduct these safety meetings once a month. The data however show that an increased frequency of toolbox talks from a monthly meeting to a daily meeting has the potential to decrease total recordable incident rates (TRIR) by up to 85%.

For a convenient way to deliver daily toolbox talks that also tracks worker engagement check out the SafetyTek Toolbox Talks app. 

8. Monitor these eight metrics

What kinds of metrics can you start tracking that could make the most significant impact on your incident rate?

Here are eight safety metrics your safety department should be reporting on each month.

  1. Toolbox talks frequency
  2. Worker Participation
  3. Safety Program Performance Reviews
  4. Corrective Action Completion Velocity
  5. Employee Training
  6. Non-compliant PPE Use
  7. Incidents and Near Misses
  8. Safety Program Goal Setting

See this article for more details on each of these safety metrics. 

Specific Policies

1. Be prepared if there's a fire in your workplace. 

Fires can be devastating events, putting many companies in jeopardy. Assure that your workplace is adequately protected against the possibility of fire to cut down on incidents: Make sure smoke detectors are installed and have batteries.

  • Make sure that fire extinguishers are present, adequately charged, and recently inspected. If needed, ask your fire department to train you on how to inspect and use a fire extinguisher properly. Read this post for some tips.
  • Plan and post your escape routes. Know where the nearest exits are and how people can access them posthaste.

2. Invest in first-aid training and a first aid kit. 

First-aid training won't reduce incidents from happening, however, it would help reduce the severity of any injuries that happen during an incident.

Invest in first-aid kits for each space of your workplace. Place it in an easily accessible location that all of your workers can see.

3. Investigate each incident after it occurs. 

If an incident occurs in your workplace, write up an incident report. Investigate what happened and document the following:

  • the names and positions of the people involved
  • the names of any witnesses
  • the exact location or address of the incident
  • the exact time and date of the occurrence
  • a detailed and precise description of what exactly happened
  • a description of the injuries

An incident investigation must be comprehensive and include all information making it crucial to start writing the report as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it can be to document the details of the incident accurately. It's best to do the write-up when everyone's memory of the incident is still fresh.

Here is a post with seven essential elements of an incident report.

4. Workplace entrances and exits are fully operational and easily accessible. 

If your employees need to promptly get out of the building, make sure that there aren't objects blocking their exits. Sometimes in emergencies, everyone needs to evacuate as fast as possible. The site should be well-mapped, and evacuation routes clearly defined. As with any home, business, or organization, there needs to be;

  • A procedure for evacuating 
  • A location for where to meet 
  • A person who is responsible for ensuring everyone arrived.

These need to be known to all employees and reviewed regularly.

5. Mark potential safety concerns with the proper signage and instructions. 

If an electrician is rewiring an area of the workplace, or if a crew is doing construction on a railing piece, inform your employees and place an appropriate, visible sign near where the potential hazard could occur. Don't assume that people will act accordingly. Spell it out for them very clearly.

------

Each incident is different, and there are too many variables to account for every possibility. A reliable and up-to-date safety process tailored to your workplace will be crucial.

While you can't think of everything, you can cover a lot. Talk to one of our experts on how you can quickly get your safety program running and complaint to COR or OSHA in just days.

The only way to decrease incidents in the workplace is to be proactive with prevention. As the ancient proverb goes; 

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." 

While there are many ways to be proactive, you will need to be consistent and communicate expectations clearly when implementing proactive measures. Review the following list of safety suggestions as a guide to starting your system of incident prevention.

1. Formalize safety policies and procedures. 

Create a safety handbook that lists out the steps that must take place to prevent incidents in the workplace. Include instructions for;

  1. Storing dangerous and toxic items
  2. Pre-use equipment inspections
  3. Safe work procedures
  4. Pre-work safety inspections
  5. Near-miss or close call incident reporting
  6. Schedule for regular safety briefings, toolbox talks
  7. Substance abuse program
  8. Safety performance reviews

Check out this on-demand webinar on creating a safety culture of excellence to start this process off right!

2. Make someone accountable for safety. 

Discuss the current safety policies with your safety coordinator, and work on a plan to ensure buy-in and compliance. Confirm that the safety coordinator is aware of all the responsibilities connected with safety. Let your support be known to this person and decide to discuss concerns and solutions to further incident prevention monthly.

3. Communicate expectations for a safe work environment. 

Let staff know regularly that safety is a significant concern. Do this verbally but reiterate expectations in a documented form. Post this safety information throughout your workplace.

Words are one thing, actions speak louder. If a safety hazard is encountered, move quickly to remedy it. Waiting too long only increased the chance of an incident. It won't correct itself and don't assume that someone else will correct it.

Ask employees for suggestions about improving workplace safety. One safety coordinator is surely helpful, but a handful of lookouts is always preferable. Collect anonymous input from employees which they can fill out at their discretion.

4. Regularly inspect your facility with your safety coordinator. 

Make sure that your team is following safety policies at work. Check areas that are of concern to observe safety guidelines being met. If you observe something non-compliance, document it and bring it up with the safety coordinator as soon as possible. Plan a meeting with all the staff to communicate the concern further and ensure that it does not happen again.

5. Provide the right tools so there is no need to improvise. 

Asking employees to improvise shows that your actions don't match your words and signals that you don't take safety seriously.

For example, if you use a storage area with high shelving, supply a safe ladder or step-stool so that staff are not forced to climb on boxes to retrieve items.

6. Schedule reviews of all risky scenarios.

Scenario reviews should involve examples using mechanical equipment and tools if available. The type of exercise will depend on the kind of operation. Some operations such as restaurants and warehouse facilities will have different scenarios than construction.

Schedule these reviews in new employee orientation and revisit them regularly. Workers will be reassured knowing that the company takes their health and safety seriously.

7. Conduct Daily Toolbox Talks

Toolbox talks or safety meetings inform workers of safety rules, equipment handling, preventive practices and urges the worker to follow standard operating procedures.

Regular toolbox talks promote safety awareness as workers get exposed to a variety of safety topics and actively reduces safety risks. Most organizations conduct these safety meetings once a month. The data however show that an increased frequency of toolbox talks from a monthly meeting to a daily meeting has the potential to decrease total recordable incident rates (TRIR) by up to 85%.

For a convenient way to deliver daily toolbox talks that also tracks worker engagement check out the SafetyTek Toolbox Talks app. 

8. Monitor these eight metrics

What kinds of metrics can you start tracking that could make the most significant impact on your incident rate?

Here are eight safety metrics your safety department should be reporting on each month.

  1. Toolbox talks frequency
  2. Worker Participation
  3. Safety Program Performance Reviews
  4. Corrective Action Completion Velocity
  5. Employee Training
  6. Non-compliant PPE Use
  7. Incidents and Near Misses
  8. Safety Program Goal Setting

See this article for more details on each of these safety metrics. 

Specific Policies

1. Be prepared if there's a fire in your workplace. 

Fires can be devastating events, putting many companies in jeopardy. Assure that your workplace is adequately protected against the possibility of fire to cut down on incidents: Make sure smoke detectors are installed and have batteries.

  • Make sure that fire extinguishers are present, adequately charged, and recently inspected. If needed, ask your fire department to train you on how to inspect and use a fire extinguisher properly. Read this post for some tips.
  • Plan and post your escape routes. Know where the nearest exits are and how people can access them posthaste.

2. Invest in first-aid training and a first aid kit. 

First-aid training won't reduce incidents from happening, however, it would help reduce the severity of any injuries that happen during an incident.

Invest in first-aid kits for each space of your workplace. Place it in an easily accessible location that all of your workers can see.

3. Investigate each incident after it occurs. 

If an incident occurs in your workplace, write up an incident report. Investigate what happened and document the following:

  • the names and positions of the people involved
  • the names of any witnesses
  • the exact location or address of the incident
  • the exact time and date of the occurrence
  • a detailed and precise description of what exactly happened
  • a description of the injuries

An incident investigation must be comprehensive and include all information making it crucial to start writing the report as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it can be to document the details of the incident accurately. It's best to do the write-up when everyone's memory of the incident is still fresh.

Here is a post with seven essential elements of an incident report.

4. Workplace entrances and exits are fully operational and easily accessible. 

If your employees need to promptly get out of the building, make sure that there aren't objects blocking their exits. Sometimes in emergencies, everyone needs to evacuate as fast as possible. The site should be well-mapped, and evacuation routes clearly defined. As with any home, business, or organization, there needs to be;

  • A procedure for evacuating 
  • A location for where to meet 
  • A person who is responsible for ensuring everyone arrived.

These need to be known to all employees and reviewed regularly.

5. Mark potential safety concerns with the proper signage and instructions. 

If an electrician is rewiring an area of the workplace, or if a crew is doing construction on a railing piece, inform your employees and place an appropriate, visible sign near where the potential hazard could occur. Don't assume that people will act accordingly. Spell it out for them very clearly.

------

Each incident is different, and there are too many variables to account for every possibility. A reliable and up-to-date safety process tailored to your workplace will be crucial.

While you can't think of everything, you can cover a lot. Talk to one of our experts on how you can quickly get your safety program running and complaint to COR or OSHA in just days.

The only way to decrease incidents in the workplace is to be proactive with prevention. As the ancient proverb goes; 

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." 

While there are many ways to be proactive, you will need to be consistent and communicate expectations clearly when implementing proactive measures. Review the following list of safety suggestions as a guide to starting your system of incident prevention.

1. Formalize safety policies and procedures. 

Create a safety handbook that lists out the steps that must take place to prevent incidents in the workplace. Include instructions for;

  1. Storing dangerous and toxic items
  2. Pre-use equipment inspections
  3. Safe work procedures
  4. Pre-work safety inspections
  5. Near-miss or close call incident reporting
  6. Schedule for regular safety briefings, toolbox talks
  7. Substance abuse program
  8. Safety performance reviews

Check out this on-demand webinar on creating a safety culture of excellence to start this process off right!

2. Make someone accountable for safety. 

Discuss the current safety policies with your safety coordinator, and work on a plan to ensure buy-in and compliance. Confirm that the safety coordinator is aware of all the responsibilities connected with safety. Let your support be known to this person and decide to discuss concerns and solutions to further incident prevention monthly.

3. Communicate expectations for a safe work environment. 

Let staff know regularly that safety is a significant concern. Do this verbally but reiterate expectations in a documented form. Post this safety information throughout your workplace.

Words are one thing, actions speak louder. If a safety hazard is encountered, move quickly to remedy it. Waiting too long only increased the chance of an incident. It won't correct itself and don't assume that someone else will correct it.

Ask employees for suggestions about improving workplace safety. One safety coordinator is surely helpful, but a handful of lookouts is always preferable. Collect anonymous input from employees which they can fill out at their discretion.

4. Regularly inspect your facility with your safety coordinator. 

Make sure that your team is following safety policies at work. Check areas that are of concern to observe safety guidelines being met. If you observe something non-compliance, document it and bring it up with the safety coordinator as soon as possible. Plan a meeting with all the staff to communicate the concern further and ensure that it does not happen again.

5. Provide the right tools so there is no need to improvise. 

Asking employees to improvise shows that your actions don't match your words and signals that you don't take safety seriously.

For example, if you use a storage area with high shelving, supply a safe ladder or step-stool so that staff are not forced to climb on boxes to retrieve items.

6. Schedule reviews of all risky scenarios.

Scenario reviews should involve examples using mechanical equipment and tools if available. The type of exercise will depend on the kind of operation. Some operations such as restaurants and warehouse facilities will have different scenarios than construction.

Schedule these reviews in new employee orientation and revisit them regularly. Workers will be reassured knowing that the company takes their health and safety seriously.

7. Conduct Daily Toolbox Talks

Toolbox talks or safety meetings inform workers of safety rules, equipment handling, preventive practices and urges the worker to follow standard operating procedures.

Regular toolbox talks promote safety awareness as workers get exposed to a variety of safety topics and actively reduces safety risks. Most organizations conduct these safety meetings once a month. The data however show that an increased frequency of toolbox talks from a monthly meeting to a daily meeting has the potential to decrease total recordable incident rates (TRIR) by up to 85%.

For a convenient way to deliver daily toolbox talks that also tracks worker engagement check out the SafetyTek Toolbox Talks app. 

8. Monitor these eight metrics

What kinds of metrics can you start tracking that could make the most significant impact on your incident rate?

Here are eight safety metrics your safety department should be reporting on each month.

  1. Toolbox talks frequency
  2. Worker Participation
  3. Safety Program Performance Reviews
  4. Corrective Action Completion Velocity
  5. Employee Training
  6. Non-compliant PPE Use
  7. Incidents and Near Misses
  8. Safety Program Goal Setting

See this article for more details on each of these safety metrics. 

Specific Policies

1. Be prepared if there's a fire in your workplace. 

Fires can be devastating events, putting many companies in jeopardy. Assure that your workplace is adequately protected against the possibility of fire to cut down on incidents: Make sure smoke detectors are installed and have batteries.

  • Make sure that fire extinguishers are present, adequately charged, and recently inspected. If needed, ask your fire department to train you on how to inspect and use a fire extinguisher properly. Read this post for some tips.
  • Plan and post your escape routes. Know where the nearest exits are and how people can access them posthaste.

2. Invest in first-aid training and a first aid kit. 

First-aid training won't reduce incidents from happening, however, it would help reduce the severity of any injuries that happen during an incident.

Invest in first-aid kits for each space of your workplace. Place it in an easily accessible location that all of your workers can see.

3. Investigate each incident after it occurs. 

If an incident occurs in your workplace, write up an incident report. Investigate what happened and document the following:

  • the names and positions of the people involved
  • the names of any witnesses
  • the exact location or address of the incident
  • the exact time and date of the occurrence
  • a detailed and precise description of what exactly happened
  • a description of the injuries

An incident investigation must be comprehensive and include all information making it crucial to start writing the report as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it can be to document the details of the incident accurately. It's best to do the write-up when everyone's memory of the incident is still fresh.

Here is a post with seven essential elements of an incident report.

4. Workplace entrances and exits are fully operational and easily accessible. 

If your employees need to promptly get out of the building, make sure that there aren't objects blocking their exits. Sometimes in emergencies, everyone needs to evacuate as fast as possible. The site should be well-mapped, and evacuation routes clearly defined. As with any home, business, or organization, there needs to be;

  • A procedure for evacuating 
  • A location for where to meet 
  • A person who is responsible for ensuring everyone arrived.

These need to be known to all employees and reviewed regularly.

5. Mark potential safety concerns with the proper signage and instructions. 

If an electrician is rewiring an area of the workplace, or if a crew is doing construction on a railing piece, inform your employees and place an appropriate, visible sign near where the potential hazard could occur. Don't assume that people will act accordingly. Spell it out for them very clearly.

------

Each incident is different, and there are too many variables to account for every possibility. A reliable and up-to-date safety process tailored to your workplace will be crucial.

While you can't think of everything, you can cover a lot. Talk to one of our experts on how you can quickly get your safety program running and complaint to COR or OSHA in just days.

Paying Attention to Employee burnout

Paying Attention to Employee burnout

Employee burnout has been a subject of debate for years. In 2019 WHO updated its definition of Burnout to be “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” 

It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy.

Although burnout is typically associated with medical professionals, first responders, and business executives, it can actually show up in any profession. Employee burnout can stem from working in isolation, balancing household and work challenges all at once, or trying not to appear “weak”. 

365 toolbox talk topics

Identifying Employee Burnout

Expecting employees to convey burnout may be optimistic. Many are not content speaking about what they think is a personal difficult, especially when they might "just be thankful they have a job."

Only a small number of employees confided about their mental health to HR for fear of being perceived as unproductive or losing their jobs.

But if organizations keep their ear to the ground, they will find trouble brewing among employees and can mitigate any risks that show up when not addressed properly. 

This would be a great topic to address in a toolbox talk. An open discussion on how workers are handling workplace tasks on a regular basis helps alleviate the stress being placed on performance. 

The Mayo Clinic suggests these questions be asked to find out potential employee burn out: 

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits changed?

Statics have shown 23% of workers have felt burned out more often than not while an additional 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes.  

Although there are no OSHA regulations around employee burnout or policies for dealing with workers affected by burnout, studies suggest that employee burnout has the potential to impact many aspects of work performance and safety. 

Burnout employees have less awareness of their surroundings and struggle to maintain workplace safety practices. This can result in 

  • Misusing equipment
  • Delaying emergency responses
  • Poor driving
  • Employee fighting
  • Issues caused by getting behind on work-related tasks.

If left unaddressed, a burned-out employee has the potential to be an unsafe worker which could lead to a workplace accident that affects other employees who suffer injuries.

How You Can Support Burned-out Employees

Organizations that have managed to stay on top of things identified this and began reinforcing vacations to combat burnout, amongst other measures such as:

  1. Add a day off to a long weekend. Ask your employees to take Friday off before a long weekend, specifically to address burnout. 
  2. Ask employees to share leaves with their co-workers. This can come as a relief to many employees anxious about the pandemic and its impact on their health.
  3. If it's too much, try different innovations in small groups. Like Friday afternoons off. It can help to take a break and refresh over the weekend. Such a benefit once or twice a month can help employees recharge and stay productive and focused.
  4. Assist employees with childcare challenges. Parents will now be dealing with children returning to the virtual classroom. Incorporate things like a flexible schedule, a compressed workweek, leaves, and protected time where they are not interrupted by their co-workers.

What works for other organizations may not work for yours and vice versa. It's time to open up the conversation and learn the difficulties employees have to manage. Offering support for their most pressing challenges and dealing with mental health concerns is the only meaningful way to support them.

Initiatives That Help Maintain a Strong Culture of Safety

Keeping everyone safe on a construction site is more than just rules and regulations. A culture of safety to which each and every employee or manager contributes is the path to excellent safety outcomes.

Many principles and practices make up strong safety culture, and it’s absolutely a joint effort. While the theory behind safe worksites is the same in most places, how it is put in practice will vary widely. The initiatives in this article are important parts of the puzzle that can help maintain a strong safety culture.

Substance abuse programs

This tricky topic is one that should be addressed by all companies. Recognizing and treating issues of substance abuse is critical to keeping everyone safe on a worksite. In the United States, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported construction as the industry with the second-highest rate of substance abuse from 2008-2012, which indicates that it’s a widespread problem. Employees under the influence of harmful substances are not only putting themselves and those around them at increased risk of injury or death but affecting the bottom line. 

How do you begin the conversation around substance abuse with employees? A framework around how you will approach substance abuse issues is a good place to start, including a written policy. The Construction Coalition for a Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workplace (USA) has a basic policy template that you could add to and adapt for your company.

A proactive approach to harmful substance use can cut the problem off before it becomes a big one. This can mean providing resources, education, and messaging around substance abuse to everyone working on the site or project. Reducing stress as much as possible on your employees is another good preventative. This article by Michael R Frone shows links between work stressors and alcohol use; it’s commonly known that career-related stress is often a contributing factor to the use of harmful, addictive substances.

New hires introductions

The best time to get employees on board with your safety culture is right at the start of their employment. Start them off on the right foot!

Layout commitments, expectations, and responsibilities. Both workers and management have roles to play in keeping a site or project safe, and it should be very clear what those roles are. Let new hires know exactly what is expected of them, and ask them to commit to those responsibilities before they start. A brief but comprehensive health and safety statement covering the responsibilities of involved parties, the company culture, and an overview of how safety is managed should be presented and signed during the onboarding process.

In addition, you should

  • Mention site-specific concerns
  • Explain the reporting process
  • Outline necessary equipment and gear
  • Match them up with mentors

It's important to evaluate the progress of your new employees right from the beginning—not to show them their failings but to know where you can help them to improve. SafetyTek helps keep records that can make evaluation easier.

Site-specific safety policies and procedures

These important documents are unique to any worksite, but they should be developed with the regulations of governing bodies in mind (such as OSHA or CCOHS). A safety plan might include the goal of the document, the chain of responsibility, a rundown of site-specific hazards, required PPE and training, daily routines, emergency response, lockout and tag out procedures, and any other relevant information. It should be made available to and presented to all workers.

The nemesis of a safe environment, hazards exist on any construction site and are unique to each one. Knowing the hazards will inform any safety procedures, planning, and habits, and should be identified before any work begins. From slip, trip, and fall hazards to fire risks, consider and plan around anything that could present danger to any employee. It’s also essential to encourage workers to report any hazards they come across during their work.

One factor that changes almost completely from site to site is the people involved. In a strong safety culture, people will know who’s who on-site, and who is responsible for what. A good orientation to a new site will include making connections. Everyone should know who to turn to in any safety situation.

Also important is when things go wrong and an emergency situation arises, everyone involved should be aware of the best way to proceed.

Toolbox talks

These infamous short meetings cover just about anything worksite-related, but many of them are about safety. Toolbox talks are a fantastic tool, a direct means of communication with the workforce—here’s how to make them effective.

  • Minimize the boring presentation slides! A PowerPoint presentation isn’t always necessary, and when it is used it should illustrate points visually or add visual interest, not just reiterate all of what’s being said.
  • Involve other people. Don’t always have the same manager present toolbox talks, but bring in knowledgeable staff members or even outsiders—particularly those who have a lot of experience in the particular field that is the topic of the talk.
  • Be brief and interesting.
  • Include an actionable point along with the information. This gets people thinking—and doing—over the following period.
  • Be consistent in scheduling and carrying out your toolbox talks.

 

Near-miss analyses

A “near miss” on a worksite is not just a close call, it’s an opportunity for learning and improvement. A near miss is defined in the European OSH Wiki as “an unplanned event which did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so.” Analyzing and learning from such events can help you to improve the safety culture—here’s how.

  • Reporting: Having employees make reports about any notable incidents or near misses should be an ingrained part of your site’s culture. Close calls shouldn’t be swept under the rug, but it can be difficult to encourage workers to report them if they feel like they or someone else are at fault.
  • Prompt responses: Any action and response that comes from a reported near miss should be quick. This means that the details are fresh in the mind of those concerned, and it also shows a commitment to improving things before someone gets hurt. Prompt responses also encourage continued reporting.
  • Determination of cause: It’s important to get to the root of any safety matter. Most incidents are caused by flaws or weaknesses in systems, and these can be pinpointed with methods such as Event trees, and brainstorming.
  • Follow-up: Where a possible solution is identified, action should be taken promptly. This might mean replacing faulty shelving, making a slight change to the rules, or introducing a new PPE.
  • Share the learning: Any lessons learned from the near-miss situation should be shared with everyone on-site. Knowledge is power to stop it from happening again. 

 

Site safety committees

Safety culture leadership does not work best when it’s entirely top-down. A strong safety ethic on any site or project is best built when workers and managers from all levels and sections of an organization lead the way, and site safety committees allow that to happen. Such committees should be broad and inclusive, to allow a range of perspectives and also deepen their reach into different areas and groups.

There are several objectives for site safety committees to accomplish. The first is safety planning: developing and implementing necessary practices. Another function is the analysis of incidence reports, which is crucial to informing future rules and systems—tying back into planning.

A site safety committee should also encourage and oversee training for all employees (SafetyTek’s employee training matrix can help with that), and set goals and priorities for the safety program. Part of this is reviewing goals to determine whether they have been achieved.

Perhaps one of the biggest roles of safety committee members is to advocate for safe practices and bring awareness of safety issues to their colleagues. They should spread information, and a diverse, well-rounded committee can easily influence all parts of a site, company, or project.

 

Stay safe, stay organized

Keeping everyone safe is so important, and also a big task with many moving parts. There are both concrete things that can be implemented, like rules, signs, and protective equipment, and intangible aspects such as attitude and education which are just as crucial to the culture and outcomes.

All of the above initiatives to creating a strong safety culture require a bit of organization and record-keeping—and often, some paperwork. At SafetyTek, we are firm believers that a lot of paperwork can block REAL safety, so we have designed a comprehensive platform that takes a lot of the administrative work out of keeping track, logging incidents, monitoring training and qualifications, and other safety tasks. Contact us to learn more. 

Safety Culture Leadership: Site Safety Committees

A culture is not built from the top down; having management dictate behaviours and habits is not an effective way to create them. Safety culture leadership has to come from all levels of an organization, as buy-in is essential and is best done when everyone feels a sense of ownership over the culture and the systems.

Site safety committees (or project safety committees) are a good way to achieve safety culture leadership that motivates and engages all employees. Essentially, these are groups of people from all parts of a project (including subcontractors, vendors, employees, management etc) who come together in a committee to oversee and discuss safety issues. 

They should be broad and inclusive. Not only does this allow a range of perspectives, ideas, and expertise to be included in the meetings, but it helps to engage more people on the site or project. Those on the committee are taking on a leadership role, and those that work with them daily have a direct link to what’s going on, and can provide feedback get information from their colleagues.

What, however, do they actually do? The following are a few important roles of site safety committees, and how to ensure they are fulfilling them effectively.

Objectives of a safety committee

ST committees 1

  • Safety planning

Planning ahead rather than just reacting after something happens is a vital function of site safety committees. This means developing and implementing safe work practices, identifying hazards before they cause accidents, scheduling inspections, and all of the routine practices that go into ensuring a site is safe. Good planning goes a long way.

  • Analysis of incident reports

When something goes wrong, an investigation is done and reports are made—but where does that information go? Often, it’s to a safety committee, where it is analyzed and used to equip and inform future safety practices.

The committee should determine the root causes of any incident, and then discuss corrective actions and changes that could be made to the safety culture to prevent it happening again. This ties back into the safety planning element of the committee’s role. Varied perspectives and knowledge are hugely helpful in analyzing incidents from all angles.

  • Encouraging and overseeing training

Keeping workers up to date with necessary safety training and certification is another vital role of a safety committee and an important aspect of safety culture leadership.

This means keeping track of any government, state or province-mandated (depending on your location) training certifications—these could be required by OSHA in the United States, by CCOHS in Canada, or by other local and national governing bodies.

Software like SafetyTek’s employee training matrix can help hugely with the administration of training requirements, particularly on sites with a lot of workers doing different jobs.

Setting goals and priorities

Putting into place measurable, attainable goals for onsite safety is one of the responsibilities of a site or project safety committee. Depending on the length of the project, these might be set at monthly, quarterly, six-monthly or annual intervals.

During meetings, a committee will also review the goals and whether they have been achieved. Setting goals drives progress in any organisation, and establishing priorities makes it easier for the committee to determine where their attention should be focused.

Advocating for safety awareness

Beyond the committee meetings themselves, the members should bring their knowledge and awareness of safety issues into the worksite. They should be the site’s biggest and most active safety advocates, and leaders of the onsite safety culture.

Spreading information and educating is a key objective for the safety committee, and its individual members can perhaps do this most effectively during their everyday work. Being informed about safety issues due to their involvement in the committee means that they are well-placed to lead by example—and by educating their colleagues as opportunities arise.

Tips for effective safety committees

 

  • Meet regularly

While this isn’t a high-level purpose of a committee, it is important! Safety systems are always evolving, and new information is coming to light through near misses and other onsite events.

A regularly scheduled meeting time is vital to keeping on top of safety. It can happen that not everyone will be available for every meeting, but make an effort to get all members there as often as possible.

  • Ensure a cross-section of people

We said it before, but it bears repeating. A site safety committee should consist of employees from all aspects of a project or site. It’s a matter of representation—all those working on the project or site should feel that their group has a voice.

Mix labor force and management for a good mix of members. Selecting the representatives from each group can be done in a number of ways, but it is a good idea to ask people who are naturally interested in or passionate about safety.

  • Educate the committee

In order to make well-informed decisions regarding safety, committee members should be up-to-date and educated. Extra training for the safety committee is a smart investment and a path to a safer site—which in turn is better on the bottom line.

Topics might include recordkeeping requirements, employer obligations, and hazard recognition. There are plenty of possibilities, and trainings can be tailored to what’s relevant on your site.

  • Have a clear mission

To guide discussions and planning, the committee should have a mission statement that’s simple, practical and attainable. It should clarify the overall role of the committee, and outline the ideal safety conditions for the site or project.

  • Inject some fun

Make the safety committee interesting and enjoyable, and the members will more readily participate to the best of their ability. Boring meetings become a chore and an obligation, and those attending want to get them over and done with as soon as possible—an attitude which does not bode well for safety outcomes!

Consider including personal reflections and stories in the agenda, bringing in guest speakers, providing fun snacks and including a game or quiz to spark interest in a topic.

Leading a safety culture

Tasked with overseeing safety on a site or project from all angles, a diverse and engaged safety committee is a huge asset. Although set up by management, such a group should be representative of all parts of the workforce, offering an array of perspectives and a huge amount of expertise.

At SafetyTek we are all about keeping people safe on worksites, whatever their role. Take a look at the features of our safety software and how it can help a safety committee to implement their decisions and achieve their goals.

How to Improve Safety Culture: Near-Miss Analyses

Reporting and analyzing “near misses” on a worksite is a crucial way to improve safety culture. Learning from your mistakes is great, but it’s even better when you can learn from an “almost-mistake.” Particularly in the construction trade, where a mistake can be deadly.

The European OSH wiki defines a near miss as “an unplanned event which did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so.” If your team can take those events and incidents, extract a lesson or two and incorporate the learning into your safety culture and practices, everyone will be better off.

But how exactly can you improve safety culture through analyzing near-miss situations? Here are our top tips.

Make reporting part of the culture

The site management, if not present at the time of any particular event, will not know about it unless someone tells them. And you don’t want to rely on the grapevine!

Because near misses do not result in adverse or dramatic outcomes, it’s easy for them to be swept under the rug with an “oops”—after all, workers are busy and they will be moving on to the next thing. We do it in our personal lives, too; we slip on the stairs and catch ourselves then think nothing more of it, or knock a glass off a precarious shelf and catch it, continuing about the day with just a mental note to be more careful.

However, it’s important to catch those learning opportunities, and for that to happen there needs to be a robust reporting system. First, educate your workers on what type of things should be reported—including near misses. Then, provide a clear and easy way for them to report the details to the site leadership. It should allow for anonymity if the reporter desires, and—crucially—be non-punitive.

A good safety management software like SafetyTek is the simplest way to report and manage workplace safety data. Workers can submit digital forms from any device, eliminating the possibility of illegible paperwork and forms being lost in the shuffle. It also makes life easier for those collecting and analyzing the data, with a mission control dashboard that offers an overview of everything a manager might need to see.

Be prompt in response and action

Any investigation into a near-miss event should happen quickly after it takes place. This is so that it is fresh in the mind and also to prevent the worst happening next time. How would you feel if an employee narrowly avoided disaster one week, only for it to strike in the same place and for the same reason the next? A near miss exposes a weak point in safety processes, behaviors, or protocols, and they should be addressed pronto.

A prompt response to their reporting is also encouraging to employees; it shows them that their concerns are taken seriously and that making a report has a positive effect. It indicates an effort to improve on the part of management.

Determine the root causes

Any incident or almost-incident will be caused by a weakness in the safety systems or culture. The goal of analyzing your near misses is to find out what and where those weaknesses lie, and fix them. The same principle, of course, applies when an accident does happen.

Once you have collected all of the information you can regarding an event, it’s time for those in charge to analyze. Different teams will use different methods of assessing the root cause of a near miss, but the following tools can be helpful:

  • Brainstorming
  • Logic/event trees
  • Timelines
  • Key questions: What happened (or nearly happened), why did it (nearly) happen, would it happen again?

Follow up and correct

Following the reporting and analysis of the near-miss event, those responsible for onsite safety will need to take action. The action necessary will vary widely depending on the site and the situation; it should become evident once an analysis has been completed.

If something had fallen off a top shelf, for example, and nearly hit a worker on the head, the corrective action may be to change storage systems to put lighter or more stable objects on the high shelves or to change the rules and require hard hats be worn in the storage area. A near miss involving a power tool might prompt better training for employees tasked with using that particular tool.

Share the learning around

When implementing a rule change or new way of doing things, always make the reasons for doing so clear—this makes employees more willing and likely to embrace the changes. Lessons learned are not just for management, but for everyone. Do keep in mind, however, that some reports were made anonymously and they should stay that way when you are discussing the contents of them.

Worker participation is vital for any safety program to thrive. To share the results of any investigation or analysis will encourage your people to report near misses and take an active part in improving the safety culture on your site or sites.

Stay on top of things

Near-miss tracking and analysis have shown great improvements to safety outcomes in the aviation industry, among others. It can be easy to allow these incidents to pass without fanfare as they do not result in injury or tragedy, but staying on top of the game is how those are ultimately prevented.

Near misses are a valuable learning experience, and to make the most of what they can teach, several things must be in place. They include a good, non-punitive and anonymous reporting system, prompt and thorough analyses of the event, and corrective actions that will prevent the near miss—or a worse accident—from happening again.

We recommend using a comprehensive safety management software to improve safety culture in your company and keep track of onsite reporting, filing, training, checklists and more. SafetyTek is dedicated to keeping worksites safe through the best technology!