Water Well Journal

November 2015

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/592194

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Page 53 of 90

B usinesses spend $170 billion a year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses—expenditures that come straight out of company profits. Workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20% to 40%. In today's business environment, these costs can be the difference between operating in the black and running in the red. Small businesses have the added challenge of staying abreast of OSHA regulations and typically don't have the resources to employ full-time trained safety professionals to direct, control, manage, and administer the safety and health management systems for the company. These responsibilities are largely neglected even when safety management has been assigned to a manager—typically one with other primary and sometimes competing job responsibilities. An alternative approach to this predicament is to form and develop a self-managing safety leadership team. A team approach is also a way to get more employees in- volved in the safety process and for employees to play a more active role in preventing injuries and illnesses. Other benefits include greater knowledge and experience, more approaches to solving problems, and better execution of the safety pro- gram. However, if haphazardly formed, any work team will ultimately have problems sustaining safety management. Consider the following 10 factors needed for creating a self-managing safety leadership team. 1. Clear Direction Successful self-managing teams have a clear under- standing what their purpose is, why the group exists, and what they are trying to accomplish. For example, one team stated its mission as follows: "The safety leadership team exists to identify, evaluate, and manage the risk of injuries and illnesses to employees and visitors at our job sites in order to achieve OSHA com- pliance and control losses. The safety leadership team will do so in a way that directs and manages the organization's resources efficiently in an effort to achieve an optimal level of safety and health for the organization." This statement of direction is clear and simple as it con- tains only a few objectives. But those objectives can allow the team to make intelligent tradeoffs. When faced with a decision regarding whether an engineering control should be implemented or a safety procedure written, the state- ment invites the group to ask: Does this action reduce the risk of injury or illnesses? Does it help us achieve an opti- mal level of safety? Is it feasible? The statement is also clear about the group's purpose but doesn't say how the team should get there. Two com- mon errors in setting direction is (1) failing to set any direction at all, and (2) setting a direction that is all about means (the how) but doesn't specify the ends (the why) (Wageman 1997). 2. Common Performance Goals Common goals are critical to the safety team's success. In other words, there should be no hidden agendas. For a goal to enhance performance, it has to match up with the team's overall direction, be challenging, and completed by a specified deadline. Unlike the statement of overall purpose, goals should be specific descriptions of work the team is to accomplish within a specific timeframe. Examples of some goals for a safety leadership team might include: – "Provide accident investigation training to all field supervisors by the end of the year." – "Conduct a risk assessment for all work tasks by the first quarter of the year." – "Prepare a job safety analysis for all high-risk activi- ties by the third quarter of the year." – "Conduct a job site safety audit for each crew on a monthly basis." – "Update the company's written injury and illness pre- vention program by the second quarter of the year." The safety leadership team should determine how they will achieve these targets. Such goals and objectives should frequently be reviewed and updated, as necessary, during team meetings to periodically measure the team's perform- ance and reinforce the group's direction. JEROME E. SPEAR A TEAM APPROACH TO INJURY AND ILLNESS PREVENTION Ten factors for creating a self-managing safety leadership team. SAFETY MATTERS 50 November 2015 WWJ waterwelljournal.com Does this action reduce the risk of injury or illnesses? Does it help us achieve an optimal level of safety? SAFETY MATTERS continues on page 52

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