Why a workplace safety plan is a living document

Business owners can’t ‘set it and forget it’ when it comes to an effective safety program
Embedding safety in your culture is an ongoing process.

We all want our employees to go home safe to their families. As an employer, you are responsible for providing a safe workplace for your employees. A successful and safe work environment not only creates employee engagement, and increases productivity and security, it can provide insurance premium credits and decrease the total cost of risk affiliated with operating your business.

However, once you have developed a safety program, you must be diligent about sticking to it. An effective safety program is an ever-changing program. You should regularly examine your plan to address changes in your business exposures, your employee base and even your client base. Don’t be discouraged if the plan does not always work the way you anticipated. A safety incident provides you with an opportunity to address failures in communication, overlooked risks or problem employees.

A strong safety program starts at the top with full commitment from business owners and the management team. Everyone involved in running the business must be willing to create a company culture that prioritizes safety the minute any employee walks in the door or onto a jobsite. It takes time to develop this culture. Encourage employees to be open about safety, and to acknowledge areas for improvement. If you make employees less apprehensive to talk about it, a culture of safety will become embedded into your business operations.

Injuries to your workers or others, and damage to your property or your clients’ property, will likely have some portions covered by insurance. But in general, only one-third of the total cost of a bodily injury or property damage claim is covered by insurance. The other two-thirds of a claims cost has numerous hidden costs, including down time, reputational harm, loss of income, loss of clients, loss of an employee and loss of productivity by other employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers a tremendous amount of resources about how to start and implement a safety program. OSHA recommends a four-point workplace program, which includes the following items:

• Management commitment and employee involvement
• Worksite analysis
• Hazard prevention and control
• Training for employees, managers and supervisors

As mentioned in previous columns, start planning for safety now, put your plan in writing and have it reviewed by all of your staff so everyone knows the commitment from the owner, from management and from each other. Winter is the perfect time to get your landscape safety plan in place for the busy spring and summer season. Even if you start simple, you can always update your plan as your business evolves and your risk profile changes. The key is to get it started now.

Troy D. Sibelius, FASLA, CIC, CRM, is an executive vice president and client advisor at The Buckner Company.

This article originally appeared in our sister publication, Colorado Patio & Landscape

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