Most of what a young person hears growing up in the construction industry today is, “Safety is #1! Safety is #1! Safety is #1!” While it is hard to disagree, any seasoned veteran will tell you that Budget, Schedule, and Quality are also important – if you want to stay in business.
Let’s all be honest, when the economy suffered and many companies were just trying to survive, they tossed off excess weight so they could stay afloat. Unfortunately, sometimes company safety fell into this boat.
Today, regulatory compliance officers are back in full force. We see more citations and more citations PER INSPECTION. Now whenever OSHA shows up, it’s not just about whether the site or location is safe and whether safety is present or not. Now, compliance officers are digging into all the paperwork and procedures of the companies they inspect. Safety Manuals are one of the most overlooked items by companies. When you have to dust off the safety manual when the OSHA compliance officer walks through the door, you’re likely in trouble. Don’t feel bad, because you aren’t the only one.
The safety manual is the backbone of a company’s safety culture and processes. Everything stems from it. It used to be the best manual was the one that made the biggest “thud” when you dropped it on a desk. Now, what is excluded is equally as important as what is included. If you have excess material in your safety manual, you’re placing your company at risk for potential civil charges when accidents occur.
The importance of customizing safety manuals cannot and should not be underestimated. With the increase in Federal and State requirements, your safety manual needs to convey a clear representation of the business functions you are performing.
Custom safety manuals are more likely to meet the requirements of Federal and State OSHA regulations.
Custom safety manuals should include standard information, plus your industry-specific and job-specific information. It includes but is not limited to Safety Policies & Procedures, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements, a Training Prescription for all of your employees, and all forms of proper safety documentation.
Now, back to the “Safety is #1” statement…
Safety is #1. There is a difference between safety and compliance. Safety is what we do on the job to ensure we are protecting our employees from harm. Compliance entails the steps we take to ensure we are in accordance with Federal, State, and “Company” laws and regulations.
Compliance is where many companies are struggling, and it is where regulatory agencies focus their efforts. Even though companies are being safe on the job, high-dollar fines are still being issued to companies for being out of compliance. You see, without a safety manual tailored to your specific business operation, there is little to no proof of compliance. The safety manual is the most critical piece. It is where company compliance standards are set and processes are laid out.
Finally, do not forget about documented enforcement, i.e. – employee reprimands or other written methods of performance management for failure to follow safety policy. Without enforcement, a safety manual is barely worth the paper it’s printed on.
– Tony Cann
Business Development Manager, HB NEXT