Does your safety program really protect your company?

What is a Safety Program?


A safety program is a set of policies and work practices specifically designed by your company for your company. It addresses not only the OSHA regulations and ways to reduce the exposure to hazards in your work areas, but also organizes a performance driven framework for continued focus and improvement on safety.

When you think about the term “safety program”, you probably think about the OSHA regulations and procedures for handling fire extinguishers or ladders, for example. This is only partly true. A safety program is more than canned procedures on how to comply with OSHA regulations. An effective safety program is designed around the work processes or tasks normally assigned to employees and integrates safety and health related decisions and precautions into them.

What should be included?

OSHA has developed their own guide to developing safety and health programs. Although I feel it is a great start, it just does not provide the “bang for the buck” that is essential to business both small and large. OSHA provides great advice like “place safety posters conspicuously in high traffic areas” to remind employees to be safe. To me that is just background noise. If you are a company preparing to spend time and money and really want to encourage your employees to adopt what you are designing, a safety program needs to be more than that.

I have been a business analyst and process improvement consultant for over 17 years. Listed below are the elements I feel are essential to first, establish a safety program that contributes to the bottom line – meaning it provides maximum protection for your workers and minimizes your downtime. Second, it must clearly comply with the OSHA regulations that are required by the scope of work your employees perform. Third, it must be usable – and preferably – automatic integrated into your day-to-day work processes for your employees to understand and remember it.

NOTE: This page will be continually updated as additional content is posted on the blog. Each of the content areas below will have their own section on the blog.

How do we get started?

How do you build a framework for a performance driven safety and health program?

  • Strategic Planning – Does your strategic planning process encourage you to build measurable goals when it comes to safety and health?
  • Written Policy – Do you have a formal written policy statement regarding safety and health at your organization? Do you document policy and procedures and incorporate them into your operations manual?
  • Performance Measure – Do you measure safety and health Key Performance Indicators beyond the required recordkeeping forms and EMR ratings?

How do we assign roles and responsibilities?

Do you have clearly delineated responsibilities that are both rolled into your operating procedures and job descriptions?

  • Leadership – Are leaders clear on their responsibilities to “champion the cause” and provide guidance and support where needed?
  • Employees – Are employees clear on their responsibilities to work to the system, knowing still that the system is only as good as what they make it?
  • Safety Committee – Do your employees feel empowered that they are helping your company improve and grow? Have you established a decision making framework for addressing safety concerns and improvements?

What is a process assessment?

Do you clearly understand the tasks that your employees perform every day? Are you ready to integrate safety and health controls into those work procedures

  • Information gathering – Do you have all the safety information your company needs to build an operations manual?
  • Workplace assessments – How would you currently rate your safety and health efforts on a task-by-task or department-by-department basis?
  • Swimlane diagrams – Do you clearly document your work processes using tools such as swimlane diagrams so that everyone knows what is needed to be complete, by whom, and in what order?

What OSHA safety topics do we work to?

How do you build a framework for a performance driven safety and health program? Do you have controls in place for all of these areas?

  • Administrative Safety – How do you incorporate administrative safety procedures into your operations manual? How do you make them enforceable?
  • Exposure Control – What do you look for in your operating procedures that help you address the fact that employees are exposed to hazards that must be mitigated?
  • Personal Protection – How do you go about determining if a work process required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
  • Facility Safety – How do you roll safety procedures into your normal facility management system?
  • Tools and Equipment – What do you do to ensure that employees are using the correct tool for the job?
  • Behavioral & Attitude – What do you do to go about instilling a positive attitude when it comes to safety and health at your workplace?

How do we address hazards?

How do you build a framework for a performance driven safety and health program?

  • Hazard analysis – Now that you have gathered the needed information about your tools, equipment, and work processes, and now that you are familiar with the six centers of safety, how do you assess your current situation and identify OSHA regulations that are required for you to comply?
  • Analysis process – How do you go about applying OSHA safety controls to your work processes?
  • Work procedures – How do you best go about developing your operations manual with the required safety and health policies incorporated?

How do we train our employees?

How do you build a framework for a performance driven safety and health program?

  • Types of training – Now that you are clear on the new procedures you must use to comply with OSHA regulations, how do you train your employees? What are the requirements for training different members of your team?
  • Your training program – How do you develop a safety training program in conjunction with your normal operational training, new employee orientation, and employee development programs?
  • Training delivery – What is the best type of training? Offsite through OSHA? Onsite by a third party? Team training by your supervisors? Safety videos? Read & sign training? Toolbox talks? All or none of them? It depends…

How do we document our efforts?

How do you build a framework for a performance driven safety and health program?

  • OSHA recordkeeping – How do you comply with the OSHA Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300) requirements? What other OSHA related recordkeeping is required?
  • Employee records – How do you maintain employee medical, testing, training, or exposure records?
  • Program records – How do you document your efforts relating to your safety program development? What is the best way to maintain all of this?