Too often I hear from clients that they don’t want safety to be a burden on their business. And as a small business owner I totally get it! Putting money and time into anything that isn’t billable needs to be
Here at Boreal, we are firm believers that safety should never be a burden to a small business. Yes, sometimes it can feel like it, especially when you are faced with legislative requirements and client requirements, and of course your own operational needs. But there are ways in which you can make sure that your safety program meets the criteria above. Here are our suggestions:
If you’re going to out-source the development of your safety program, do your research. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, buy a generic safety program off of the Internet!! I have to admit, this is often where Boreal makes a good bit of our income: fixing crap safety manuals that people have bought off of the Internet, but it sort of breaks my heart. If you’re buying something off of the Internet you don’t know if it meets the requirements of the regulatory bodies of the locations in which you work (for many of my clients, that’s their provincial OHS legislation), and you’re certainly not getting a manual that meets the needs of your operations.
The way you want your workers to do their job (reflected in your Safe Job Procedures and Safe Work Practices), the way you want you are going to respond to incidents, the inspections that you need done in your facilities…these are all so specific to your company. And most importantly, you want your safety culture to shine through your safety program. You want your workers and supervisors and managers to really understand what your expectations of them are, and what they can expect from you.
And believe me, a safety program purchased off of the Internet will never pass a COR audit. Guaranteed. So spend your money wisely and make sure that you are out-sourcing to someone who is going to take the time to really customize your safety program to your organization.
If you’re hiring a consultant, ask them how they are going to ensure that your safety program is customized to meet your organizational needs. Your manual, your forms, your orientations, should all be customized to YOU.
Safety keeps the paper industry afloat.
Safety is for people that don’t have anything better to do.
Safety paperwork is a waste of time.
Believe me, I’ve heard it all. And these are the PG versions of the comments I hear. So often, when I’m doing a gap analysis on a client’s current safety program and I ask ‘What is this form used for?’ or ‘Who reviews these forms?’ or ‘What is this information collected for?’ I often get blanked stares and shrugs. Or the dreaded ‘Because we’ve always done it that way’. Go through your forms with a critical eye and really determine why information is being gathered.
Is it a legislative requirement? Keep doing it.
Is it information that should be shared with the entire organization (like meeting minutes, corrective actions and follow ups, inspection reports)? Keep doing it.
Could it potentially be used in due diligence defence? Keep doing it.
Is it information that has already been gathered in one place and is being re-logged somewhere else for some reason that has been long forgotten and is never looked at again. Hmmmmm, let’s maybe consider not doing that anymore.
Try to determine ways to streamline your safety paperwork needs without taking away the purposes of it. To me, one of the most important reasons for filling out safety forms is to get workers to slow down for a moment before diving into their work. To stop and do a proper inspection or hazard assessment. To take a few extra minutes to fill out a form. Personally, I’m a fan of doing a wee bit of writing items out and not just checking off boxes, but that’s just me. Determine what is best for your organization. Maybe it’s an electronic solution. There are a ton out there and we’re happy to discuss some of the research we’ve done.
But if you’ve got workers filling out paperwork and no one knows why? Rethink it. Have a discussion with your safety team. Determine whether you can streamline it.
I admit, marketing is the part of running a small business that I struggle with, so not sure if you want to take marketing advice from me…but bear with me here. There are two groups of people that do care about your safety program (besides you): your clients and your workers.
Your clients hear about your safety program a number of ways: do you have COR (or SECOR)? What is your TRIF rate? Are you on ISNetworld, Avetta, or ComplyWorks? What do other organizations say about you? Your reputation in terms of safety does follow you around, so having a kick-ass safety program can only benefit you! Brag about it! Boast about it! Wear that safety program like badge of honour! Get your COR logo from your certifying partner and put it on your website. Include your commitment to safety in your value proposition. Let your clients know that you value the safety of your workers, your client’s worksite and the environment. They’ll notice, believe me.
Your workers care too, a lot! Research shows that workers are more likely to be loyal to an organization that gives safety a priority, particularly if the safety program engages all employees, and that the workers know they have some ownership in the safety program. Meaning you should really be involving your workers in your safety program. Invite them to join your Work Site Health and Safety Committee, engage them during safety meetings, ask them lead a safety meeting, ask them for suggestions about how to strengthen your safety program. And then make sure that you take all of their suggestions into consideration.
If you use your safety program as a marketing tool to both your clients and to your current and potential workers, your bottom line can only benefit from it.
I hope this helps take some of the burden away from your safety program. Of course, we are always here to help too. Give us a shout if you want to discuss how Boreal can lend a hand. We would love to be a part of your team.