“When Safety and Health are part of the organization and a way of life, everyone wins,” says United States Department of Labor.
The best programs to ensure Health and Safety in a mining operation involves every level of management; from instilling a culture of safety that reduces safety incidents to improving operational efficiency and the bottom line for management.
“Does a safety and health program really make a difference? Definitely!”
Whether you are evaluating the value of that your Health & Safety program is adding to the operation, or looking at improving the efficiency of your safety protocol, here are Four crucial questions to guide you along the way.
#1 – What Return on Investment can Health & Safety Programs Deliver?
- Improved employee morale.
- Decreased lost time,
- Fewer workplace injuries and illnesses,
- Lower insurance costs, and
- companywide adoption of Safety culture.
“Workplace safety is not only the right thing to do for your workers; it’s the right thing to do for your business,” says Dr. David Michaels, United States Assistant Secretary of Labor.
According to the National Safety Council (USA), workplace injuries and illnesses cost the United States economy 198.2 billion dollars a year, or, half a billion dollars per day! “Employers who invest in injury and illness prevention programs can expect significant cost savings in addition to reducing fatalities, injuries and illnesses.”
A success story borrowed from the poultry processing industry illustrates the return on investment that can be delivered by a smartly implemented health and safety program:
In 1991, poultry processing farm group, Perdu Farms, initiated an ergonomics program at their North Carolina plants. The program was so successful that the company decided to expand it to all of their plants across the USA. The result? Although the average lost-workday injuries for poultry process is around 12, six Perdue plants had no lost time injuries in 1996.
#2 – How Can Safety & Health Become a Part of the Way our Business Runs?
In order for Safety and Health Management programs to be effective, a few critical elements need to be in place.
- Include S&H standards in performance appraisals
- Management commitment
- Employee involvement
- Thorough worksite analysis
- Prioritising hazard prevention and control
- Training for employees, supervisors and managers
#3 – What Factors Indicate Improvement or Decline?
- Statistical reports,
- Opinion surveys,
- Risk analysis,
- Periodic inspections,
- Process improvement initiatives.
For a checklist of action items for each of the critical components of effective workplace safety and health management systems, you can access the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration of US Labor Department) fact sheet available for download from their publications page.
#4 – What are the Best Practices for Ensuring Lasting Success?
OSHA recommends the following practises to create change that goes beyond a short term remedy.
- Obtain management buy-in.
- Build trust between management, employees and trade unions.
- Conduct self-assessments on a regular basis, but make sure to involve external health and safety auditors.
- Develop a site safety vision and foster a workplace culture that promotes this vision.
- Implement recognition for improvement on safety protocol and rewards for success!
- Develop a system of accountability and measures. Making each safety measure the responsibility of a specific individual and holding them accountable for implementation, ensures buy-in and participation.
- Provide awareness training for existing employees and include safety training in your employee welcoming program.
- Continually measure, communicate results and celebrate successes!