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In 2014, 4,821 people died on the job. To help reduce the number of injuries and fatalities, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its safety regulations in 2016 to encourage employers to improve workplace safety. Under the new rule, any workplace with 250 or more employees must electronically submit accident, illness and injury data to OSHA every quarter. The organization will post information about workplace safety records on its website. Even without the potential for public shame from the new regulations, workplace safety should be a top-of-mind issue for every company. Here are five ways to get ahead of the new laws and protect your employees.
When new employees receive on-the-job training, sometimes the trainer may inadvertently skip a step or make a mistake that can lead to injury. Without the proper process documentation, it's easy to develop bad habits that can become serious safety issues. To prevent this problem, document all your operational processes and make sure employees have easy access to the documents for a quick refresher whenever they need it.
Part of your safety program should include periodic training and drills to ensure employees know what to do in an emergency and while performing their jobs. Practice evacuations for emergencies such as fire or chemical spills, but also make sure people know the locations of first-aid kits and how to contact first responders.
Digital signage is a handy tool for keeping people up to date on safety hazards. You can easily change the display to issue reminders about safety matters that arise during inclement weather or to present simple messages such as "safety matters." Another great use of digital signage is to announce safety-award winners or reminders about safety meetings. Consider digital signage as a way to deliver process documentation to line workers as well. When they see the process demonstrated correctly, they are not likely to take unsafe shortcuts.
The lean philosophy is one of the most potent tools for safety improvement. Lean encourages neatness and the use of proper methods. It has been proven that injuries are more likely to occur in a cluttered, dirty environment or while using unauthorized methods. Lean also recommends error-proofing processes through the use of tools and patterns. To be lean, you should clean up spills as soon as they occur and remove tripping hazards such as trailing wires. Consider creation of dies and jigs that only allow work to be done the right way — the safe way.
When your employees see that safety matters to you, it will matter more to them. Empower workers to bring safety issues and concerns to your attention, even to the point of shutting down the line if they observe a problem. Address safety issues quickly when they are brought to your attention. Show pride in an excellent safety record and express sincere regret for injuries or accidents that occur.
When you care about your employees, it shows. One of the most caring things you can do for your workers is to ensure their safety whenever possible. When you show you care, employees will reward you with higher productivity and fewer accidents.
As vice president of supply chain solutions at RMG Networks, Kerwin Everson is very familiar with how safety communication affects manufacturers. Everson's goal is to educate companies on the value of visualizing real-time performance management to improve productivity and efficiency.