According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), random inspections improve workplace safety. In large part, this is likely due to the fact that when business owners know their companies could get inspected without notice, they communicate that information to their workforce, encouraging their employees and management team to stay aware of rules and regulations impacting their industry. In addition, random inspections encourage business owners to ensure their employees perform projects and assignments in alignment with local, state and federal regulations. Everyone, including customers and clients, benefit when companies adhere to one or more safety management system guidelines.
The costs of not adhering to safety management system guidelines unfortunately involve injuries and illnesses, some of them fatal. For example, the total number of non-fatal trips, falls or slips that occurred at privately owned American businesses in 2011 was 225,550 according to OSHA. Of course, not all slips, falls and trips are likely reported to business owners or OSHA, some people decide to deal with minor injuries on their own. The numbers also don’t account for slips, trips and falls that occur on the property of publicly owned organizations.
The total fatal slips, trips and falls occurring on the property of privately owned companies were 666 in 2011. Regardless of the cause of an injury or illness, the total amount of fatal injuries in 2011 was 4,609, again these injuries only occurring at privately owned companies. In addition, privately owned companies had 2,986,500 non-fatal injuries and illnesses in 2011 that were reported to OSHA.
It’s these types of numbers that could help the general public, not to mention business owners, recognize the value of a quality safety management system. What might not be as evident is the fact that not every safety management system is the same, each offering different advantages. However, regardless of the advantages it offers, a safety management system should definitely reduce the risks and exposure businesses have in the face of local, state and federal regulations as well as civil lawsuits.
To start, a quality safety management system offers:
- Automatic email alerts, notifying you about overdue safety protocol items
- Assign safety related tasks to the appropriate staff members
- Track the results of safety initiatives, including business contingency plans
- Record signed acknowledgements from employees and customers who are required to read and sign safety plans and documents
- Track the dates workers complete safety training programs
- Maintains records (i.e. Word documents, forms, templates) of mandatory and more advanced company-based safety plans
A safety management system that makes it easy for you to conduct in-house inspections could help keep your work processes and procedures in line with the highest local, state and federal guidelines. The effort is worth it. After all, the purpose of a safety system is to help people avoid injuries and illnesses, including fatal injuries and illnesses. Additionally, because regulators can’t be on site at every work location during normal business hours, it’s ultimately up to each business owner to take steps to ensure that her or his company follows safe work habits, procedures and policies.
http://www.osha.gov/ (Occupational Safety & Health Administration)
http://www.epa.gov/lawsregs/ (Environmental Protection Agency)
Rhonda Campbell wrote this article after working in an environment that takes workplace safety very seriously. She was able to monitor and analyze how a safety management system improved their company’s workplace safety procedures and environment.