Implementing and Evaluating your OHS Program

Implementing and Evaluating your Health and Safety Programme in the Workplace

Implementing and Evaluating an OHS Programme

Every employer is required to have a Health and Safety Programme.

MAKROSAFE has been assisting clients with their OHS Programmes for more than 24 years.

The type of programme depends on the size of the workforce and the nature and extent of the risks and hazards in the workplace. If the workforce is large enough, a joint health and safety committee is required. In a smaller workplace, there may be a worker health and safety representative instead. This joint committee or worker representative assists the employer in implementing and maintaining the OHS Programme.

Every workplace is different. The OHS Programme should be designed to address the specific needs of the individual workplace.

All formal Health and Safety Programmes must have 7 elements:

  1.       An OHS policy statement of the aims of the programme and the responsibilities for health and safety.
  2.       Regular inspections of the premises, machinery, tools, equipment and work practices.
  3.       Appropriate written instructions for workers.
  4.       Periodic management meetings to discuss health and safety.
  5.       Investigation of accidents and other incidents in order to take action to prevent similar incidents.
  6.       Records and statistics.
  7.       Instruction and supervision of workers.

An OHS Programme requires statement of the employer’s aims and the responsibilities of the employer, supervisors and workers. This statement – called a policy – typically states:

  •         The employer’s commitment to the OHS Programme.
  •         The employer’s commitment to protect the health and safety of workers.
  •         The aims and priorities of the OHS Programme.
  •         The responsibilities of the employer, supervisors and workers.

A good health and safety policy should be simply written and easy to understand. It does not need to be longer than a few paragraphs. The written policy should be signed by the CEO or senior manager on site.

It should be dated and reviewed annually. All workers should be made aware of the policy and its importance. For example, it could be given to all new workers and posted in the workplace.

Regular OHS Inspections of the workplace are intended to:

  •         Identify conditions and unsafe acts with the potential to cause injury or disease
  •         Determine necessary corrective measures
  •         Prevent unsafe work conditions from developing

The two most common inspections are as follows:

  •         Regular, planned workplace inspections:  Inspect buildings, structures, grounds, excavations, tools. Equipment, machinery, and work methods and practices for hazards that might cause injury or disease. Schedule these inspections at appropriate intervals to prevent unsafe conditions developing. Depending on the workplace and the type of hazards that might develop, inspections may be scheduled daily, weekly, or monthly.
  •         Equipment inspections:   Workers should be trained to inspect their machinery, tools and equipment regularly, following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

An inspection team includes bother worker and management representatives.

The team should be familiar with the work processes and, whenever possible, include members of the joint committee or the worker health and safety representative. A worksite inspection checklist can help ensure that inspections are thorough, results are recorded, and the inspection process is standardized. A checklist is particularly useful in guiding those unfamiliar with the inspection process. The checklist should be adapted to suit the needs of your workplace.

Any unsafe or harmful conditions found during regular inspection should be reported immediately to the supervisor or employer and remedied without delay.

Legislation requires written safe work procedures for a number of activities. A written safe work procedure lists the steps of doing a task safely – for example, it tells how to safely lock out a piece of equipment before doing maintenance.

There should be written work procedures for the following:

  •         Lockout
  •         Confined space entry
  •         Fall protection
  •         Personal Protective Equipment
  •         Violence in the workplace
  •         Emergency evacuation
  •         Chemical spills clean up
  •         Asbestos removal
  •         Working alone or in isolation

Not all tasks require detailed written procedures. Other types of written instructions may be appropriate. For some tasks, safety issues can be addressed verbally in crew talks or during training.

When deciding whether or not written procedures are required, consider the following:

  •         Legislative requirements
  •         The level of hazard
  •         The number of workers doing the work
  •         The experience of the workers
  •         How frequently the work is being done
  •         The severity of injuries that might result if correct procedures are not followed
  •         Recommendations for written procedures as a result of an inspection or investigation

Written safe working procedures should be developed in consultation with the joint committee and workers who do the job. Provide workers with copies or post the procedures in the area where the work activity occurs.

Review these procedures whenever a job changes, new equipment is introduced, or workers return after an extended absence. In addition, work procedures may need to be adjusted as the result of recommendations from an inspection or from investigating into an incident.

A formal OHS Programme requires management meetings to review health and safety activities and incident trends. Management meetings can be used to:

  •         Review existing policies and procedures
  •         Review feedback from workers
  •         Consider reports and other information provided by the joint committee
  •         Address questions or concerns brought directly to management
  •         Review the reports and other information about workplace injury and disease prevention, to improve on the existing OHS Programme

Recommendations for action from the joint committee should be considered and acted upon by:

  •         Developing an action plan for implementing the recommendation, or
  •         Suggesting an acceptable alternative.

Management decisions and activities on health and safety matters should be communicated to supervisors and workers.

An effective OHS Programme has a process for investigating all accidents and incidents that had the potential to cause an injury or disease. The purpose of an investigation is to identify the cause or causes and to recommend steps to prevent similar unsafe conditions.

An incident is described as any of the following:

  •         Accidents in which a worker is injured or killed.
  •         Accidents in which no one is hurt but equipment or property is damaged.
  •         Near misses (no visible injury or damage but the incident could have resulted in a serious injury, death, or property damage) Serious incident must be reported.

Employers must immediately report any serious incidents that:

  •         Resulted in serious injury to a worker or the death of a worker.
  •         Did not involve injury to a worker, or involved only minor injury not requiring medical treatment, but had a potential for   causing serious injury to a worker.
  •         Involved a major structural failure of collapse of a building, bridge, tower, crane, hoist, temporary construction support system, or excavation.
  •         Involved the major release of a hazardous substance.

Incident investigations should be carried out by persons knowledgeable about the type of work being done.

An incident investigation report should include the following:

  •         The place, date and time of the incident
  •         The names and job titles of persons injured in the incident
  •         The names of witnesses
  •         A brief description of the incident
  •         A statement of the sequence of events that led up to the incident
  •         Recommended corrective actions to prevent similar incidents
  •         The names of persons who investigated the incident

It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that every worker receives adequate instruction to do their work safely. This is usually done through education and training. Education generally refers to formal classroom instruction that may include lectures, discussions and videos. All education and training record should records should be kept and maintained for each employee, listing topics covered and the date of the training.

The following are some examples of education and training topics, who may receive them, and what they should include:

  •         New worker orientation
  •         All workers who are or may be exposed to hazardous materials
  •         Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  •         Preventing violence in service industries such as retail; Health care; workers who work alone
  •         Lockout machinists, workers on production lines; various industries
  •         Confined space; various industries; understand the hazards of confined spaces
  •         Fall protection; construction; fall protection systems being used

Implementing Procedures

Incidents that occur in the workplace and that are related to health and safety should be identified, as well as those areas in the workplace that may lead to an incident taking place. The health and safety program should make provisions for this.

In all workplaces there will be those critical areas that should be identified in terms of requiring attention insofar as possibly being hazardous or potential risks. These areas must then be assessed and inspected to establish the level of hazard and risk. It is then important that these areas are then listed in detail in the health and safety programme.

Once a health and safety programme has been developed and is approved by the relevant structures within the workplace, it needs to be implemented. An important part of due process is to evaluate all elements of the program to ensure that it is meeting the requirements of the program and policy and that health and safety in the workplace is maintained.

Monitoring the effectiveness of Health and Safety Programmes

Most programmes should be reviewed annually to ensure that they are effective and to consider changes in the workplace and work activities. The effectiveness and credibility of both the committee and the employer depends on results. The committee itself is only an advisory body, making recommendations to the employer. The employer may accept the committee’s recommendations or may give reason for not accepting them.

The committee should communicate the results of recommendations to workers along with any explanations.

Committee members should not attempt to bypass normal employer channels of supervision or control. Health and safety are part of the job and should be dealt with on the job. Reporting hazardous conditions and procedures and taking corrective action is a matter for immediate attention through normal channels. Do not wait until the next meeting.

Finally, the committee should establish the terms of reference and procedures for self-monitoring in an effort to ensure that its objectives are being reached.

Employers Responsibilities

Employer’s responsibilities include:

  •         Establishing the health and safety programme
  •         Conducting an annual review
  •         Training supervisors
  •         Providing a safe and healthy work environment

Supervisors’ Responsibilities include:

  •         Providing a health and safety orientation to new workers
  •         Providing ongoing training to workers
  •         Taking part in inspections and investigations
  •         Reporting any safety or health hazards
  •         Correcting any unsafe acts and conditions

Worker’s Responsibilities include:

  •         Learning and following safe working procedures
  •         Correcting hazards or reporting them to supervisors
  •         Participating in inspections and investigations where appropriate
  •         Using personal protective equipment where required
  •         Helping to create a safe workplace by recommending ways to improve the health and safety programme

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Posted date: 22nd Mar 2018
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