August 14, 2003
I have recently been appointed as the Safety Director for my company. I have no formal training in occupational safety. Can you give me some direction for finding information about developing and implementing a Safety/Loss Control program for my company?
- M. Lloyd
(this answer comes from Ron Wood, director of human resources for the ThermaSys Heat Transfer Corp., and member of the FMA/CNA safety committee.):
Congratulations(and maybe condolences) on your appointment. You are right to feelsomewhat overwhelmed initially, but this feeling can be overcome withtime and exposure to the requirements for a basic Safety &Environmental Compliance Program. I have asked Thermasys' MontgomeryPlant's manager of safety & environmental programs to contact you.He can recommend some training and suggest actions that you and yourcompany can take to make sure you are in basic compliance should anOccupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspector comeknocking.
The main thing torealize in today's business environment is that Federal OSHA is not theenemy that they were perceived to be when they first started out in1970. My recent experience with OSHA is that they will work withcompanies to help alleviate compliance issues and reduce potentialfines.
The first requirement forany effective program is the genuine and ongoing support of thecompany's top management. This requires more than lip service. Itrequires providing the necessary resources to effectively make the workarea safe. Management must truly understand and believe that safety isgood for business.
The basics of agood program are up-to-date record keeping and having the necessaryprograms in place as required by your company's activities. Forexample, necessary employee personal protective equipment -- do not putin hard hats and safety shoes if there is no possibility of injury inthese areas. Other areas, such as machine guarding, ergonomic issues,and hearing protection and conservation programs, are all driven byyour organization's level of exposure.
Employeetraining and involvement in reducing accident and injury exposure isessential in having OSHA view your organization as making a good faitheffort to comply. An involved safety committee or team comprised ofthose employees that work in and around the exposures each day is anexcellent resource to identify problem areas and make them safe.
Also,the company that provides your workers' compensation coverage may beable to provide a lot of help in setting up your program. The FMA/CNA Safety Manualcan also provide you with basics of a good safety program.
Finally,take a close look at your company's accident and injury record over thelast several years. This history will point you to the areas in whichyou need to concentrate your attention. Best of luck to you and yourorganization.
Ron Wood SPHR Director