Magazine article Risk Management

Safety Campaigns: Maintaining Momentum

Magazine article Risk Management

Safety Campaigns: Maintaining Momentum

Article excerpt

Maintaining Momentum

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that employers spend in excess of $62 billion each year to insure workers against job-related injuries and illnesses. Successful education and ongoing safety awareness campaigns often prove to be excellent investments in the prevention of such incidents. Reduced injuries and lower workers' compensation costs have a positive impact on a company's bottom line.

Creating a safety culture, however, requires much more commitment than one-time employee training and orientation. A safety-conscious environment is best achieved through the implementation of ongoing measures that serve as constant reminders of safety procedures and strive, as the ultimate goal, to improve behavior and attitudes.

Assessing Your Safety Program

The first step in creating a "safety campaign" is conducting a needs assessment. "You have to determine where you are before determining where you want to go," says David Amos, senior consultant at the National Safety Council in Itasca, Illinois. "How much do we need to raise the awareness level in our company? Do we have a policy in place? Are those rules understood by the workers? What are their perceptions on personal accountability?"

The National Safety Council has developed three assessment surveys that an organization can use to gather information about the quality of its safety management system. Understanding how employees feel about their role in safety and how programs can be improved can give managers a true sense of empowerment.

Assessments should be made at top management, supervisor and line worker levels to trace how well safety protocols filter through different layers of the organization, says Ken Kolosh, research scientist at the National Safety Council.

Conducting safety surveys at the worker level gives an honest, overall assessment of the current system and signals problem areas in need of further study or immediate corrective action. Assessments can also detect safety management inadequacies before they produce negative results. Problems at the human level can undermine even a well-planned program, making it fall short of expected performance goals.

"Employee perception of safety is crucial," says Mr. Amos. "A survey or questionnaire conducted anonymously or by a neutral party and mailed to people's homes gives a good measure of how people on the front line truly feel."

The most popular assessment method used is the Safety Barometer, which is a database of safety statistics from over 100 companies that employers can use as a benchmark, according to Mr. …

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