How to Start a Safety Program At Work:

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Improving safety at your place of business not only helps reduce accidents, attacks and other problems, it can also decrease your legal liability and lower your insurance premiums. Using free guidance from expert sources, you can create your own safety program and protect your employees, customers and vendors.

Select Committee Members

The first step in creating a workplace safety program for your business is to select the people who will oversee the project. Include representatives from staff and management, as well as employees from different locations if you have multiple buildings or sites. Name a project manager and have the team discuss the committee’s goals, division of work and deadlines.

Gather Expert Input

Begin gathering information to form your safety program. Visit the websites of your Secretary of State, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, your state’s Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Labor. Download OSHA’s Small Business Handbook and follow its Action Plan Worksheet to guide your committee. Contact your insurance company and ask for a site visit and audit of your property. Other expert sources include your local police and fire departments, a security consultant and your building manager, if you lease or rent your property, to discuss issues such as ventilation.

Conduct a Site Audit

Have your safety committee walk your property with the experts you’ve chosen to use. Your insurer can send an expert to provide recommendations such as improved lighting, hazardous material storage and disposal, safer flooring and secure stairwells. Members of the fire department can examine your electrical outlets and other fire hazards, check to see that your building meets fire codes and provide advice for equipment you should have. If you can afford it, hire a security consultant who can discuss with you improvements such as video cameras, employee ID badges, bulletproof glass and procedures for allowing entry to your building. Review not only your property safety needs, but also personal safety issues, addressing topics such as workplace violence, acts of nature and how to handle intruders.

Draft Your Plan

Using the information you’ve gathered and expert advice you’ve received, create your safety program. Include the equipment and items you’ll need, such as fire extinguishers, defibrillators, fire hose and ax, ID badges, new door locks or entry systems, lighting additions or upgrades, first aid kits and flooring improvements. Recommend regular and surprise fire drills and building evacuations. Set procedures for training employees to use the equipment and offer to pay for first aid training or hold an on-site workshop.

Gather Input

After you create the first draft of your plan, send it to your experts and a few employees for their input and suggestions. Make any changes you feel are necessary based on their input and create the final draft of your program. Have the safety committee present their plan to management for final approval.

Communicate and Institute Your Program

When the safety program is approved, present it to your employees. Include any vendors or suppliers who visit your site regularly. Give each employee a copy of the safety plan and hang posters you collect from organizations such as the Department of Labor.