Evaluating Your Safety Program
These questions are included as examples of appropriate
evaluation questions. Understand, however, that there are
many more areas that just can’t be covered in this short article.
When Do YoU eVaLUate?
Short answer? “Continuously.”
Stop laughing. Continuously monitoring the effectiveness
of your safety program is the best way to ensure its success.
However, I understand that “continuously” may be viewed
as too aggressive or too expensive. So, let me respond more
realistically. The fact is that most safety programs rarely—if
ever—get evaluated. Somewhere between “never” and
“continuously” is at least a step forward.
Keep in mind that from a compliance point of view,
some portions of the safety program have a periodic review
prescribed by OSHA. Examples of this include: Hazard
Communication Standard (MSDS), Respiratory Protection,
Confined Space and Lockout/Tagout.
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Your safety program should define specifically how often
each component will be audited. Don’t just include the
evaluations that are required to be compliant. Assign a firm
evaluation schedule to those items that are not covered by
Who perForMS tHe auDit?
You have choices when it comes to who will perform the
audit. A good choice is someone who has a vested interest
in the success of the program. Employers, managers and
supervisors have something at risk if the program fails to
keep people safe. They also have something at risk should
a compliance officer have a reason to visit a jobsite or your
office. Individuals with something at risk may look at the
program with a more critical eye.
Another option is to involve all employees in the evaluation
process. I am a strong advocate of employee-run safety
programs. Enlisting the help of employees who are actually in
the field and on the job may reveal discrepancies and issues
that are not obvious to management.
Many companies, however, do not have the resources or
experience to carry out a comprehensive and effective safety
audit. If this applies to you, consider having a consultant take
a look at your program. Consultants that are familiar with
your type of business can offer their experience and expertise
to ensure a compliant and effective program.
Evaluating your safety program is the right thing to do,
regardless of how the evaluation is performed.
Consider the resources available and apply what you
can to the evaluation process.
The more seriously you take this responsibility, the
more positive the results will be. With regular evaluations
of your safety program, your employees will benefit, and
you will be more compliant and reduce your risk and
your liability. And aren’t these the ultimate goals of any
workplace safety program?
Art Sodermark is the president of Platinum Engineering &