Chapter Corner

Review Your Safety Plan

Posted in: Safety Corner

The beginning of a new year is a great time to refresh your focus on safety. Take this time to brush off your safety plan and get your head back in the game. Triggers are useful ways to initiate good practices. We use triggers for many safety related tasks; one good example is the replacement of batteries in smoke detectors when we change the clocks each year. As you take this opportunity to initiate a focus on safety, here is a list of items that you can use to stir discussion with your team on this topic.

THE NEW YEAR SAFETY CHECKLIST

Your organization should make a habit of periodically reviewing your overall safety program within the organization. This activity could be far reaching and include everyone from the CEO to each individual employee. Safety begins with each of us as we all have an important role to play. Today, we will focus on some key thought stimulating topics you can use as a starting point. These items are just the beginning for your safety journey. Every organization and their circumstances will be unique and the results of the dialog that will occur this year should be documented and recorded for years to come.

Let us now review some high-level,thought provoking drivers meant to spur discussion within your teams. This list should prompt you and your team to dig deeper in one or more meetings.

ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW

This is your report card that shows how well your plan worked last year. Reviewing this data as a team should help identify concerns and issues that need to be addressed. Take this time to possibly set goals and consider the IEC-CNA Safety Committee Safety Award Program as a goal for your organization. Key statistics like total hours worked, number of injuries, number of cases with days away from work, and other recordable data points are just a few that should be collected over time. Some organizations elect to record “near misses” as a way to identify areas where improvements can be made.

A good start is to reference OSHA form 300, “OSHA Forms for RecordingWork-Related Injuries and Illnesses,” a free download from OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/RKforms. html. This document provides guidance on what data to track and includes:

  • Total number of deaths
  • Total number of cases with days away from work
  • Total number of cases with job transfer or restriction
  • Total number of other recordable cases
  • Total number of days away from work
  • Total number of days of job transfer or restriction
  • Total number of injuries, skin disorders, respiratory conditions, poisonings, hearing loss, or all other illnesses

This document provides a lot more guidance and is a key input to theIEC-CNA Safety Award Program.

Don’t let the tasks of statistics and recorded incidents push you into the role of being a manager of safety and not a leader of safety. As leaders, we need to get beyond the numbers and work closely on job sites to help our teams understand how to identify areas of concern or improvement. Many organizations may be faced with a record of no accidents, no time off, no deaths, and more. This does not mean there is no room for improvement. Bad habits that lead to the bad statistics can be spotted ahead of time.

Your safety performance data relies on everyone. If events are not reported, or are reported incorrectly and inaccurately, your safety performance reports will not be accurate or complete. If all employees are completing the forms and submitting corrective action reports correctly and accurately and upper management doesn’t act on the data, the safety machine breaks down yet again. Safety performance reviews should drive action, and your budgets must be supportive. Your data should help you budget accordingly.

EQUIPMENT CHECK

Target equipment includes a range from the big trucks and lifts that you own down to the screwdrivers and side cutters and everything in between. Your teams should be looking for wear and tear and any maintenance that needs to be performed. When you find safety equipment that needs to be replaced, get it out of use and replaced as soon as possible.

The responsibilities don’t stop when the message goes out to everyone that they need to check their tools and equipment. It’s the responsibility of management to ensure the funding is in place to replace the failed or failing equipment. The equipment check activities can help to define your future budgets as some equipment can be designated for replacement in the coming years. This information is critical for your budgeting exercises.

CODE/REGULATION UPDATE

Codes and regulations change and you need to stay on top of them. This applies to more than just the National Electrical Code (NEC) and other similar documents. This applies to OSHA and other regulations that may be mandated for your business, as well. It is important to note that OSHA requirements are retroactive. Ensure you are referencing the latest version of the documents used in your business operations.

Budgets may be impacted by new regulations as well. Unaddressed, these changes can quickly suck the finances from your safety plans. It’s important to not only know what current regulations and codes are in place, you need to know what is coming down the road so you can better anticipate changes in future budgets. Problems may not require an immediate fix but rather a plan over an amount of years to address them. It is important to budget and have a plan in place.

SAFETY PLAN UPDATE

Review your safety plan every year with your team. The data recorded above may influence changes to your plan. Make the appropriate changes and communicate them. This, too, may impact your safety budget. Equipment checks; statistics reviews; and, yes, new codes and regulations may influence changes in your safety plan. Take this annual opportunity to continue the improvement of this important document. Your entire team should have an opportunity to suggest changes to your safety plan. Those individuals who are implementing the plan and performing work on a daily basis are probably the best people in your group to help improve this document. They see what happens on a daily basis and, if encouraged correctly, could add valuable information that will help improve the plan.

TRAINING

By this step in the checklist you will have a lot of information that is important for your training program. You may have uncovered various areas of concern and, quite possibly, implemented improvements that will have to be communicated through your training programs. Ensure you include your performance data, equipment check information, and any codes/regulations that your people should be familiar with. This information helps reinforce your level of commitment to the safety program at all levels in the organization.

Your discussions around training should go well beyond internal training; it needs to include your “qualified individuals” and the necessary training they need to keep them up to date on their specific training needs. This is a time to identify the IEC meetings that are available and can be made available to meet your specific training needs. CEU credits will need to be obtained for those that hold licenses in your organization.

This, too, will need to be funded. Everyone has their role to play and the management’s responsibility is to ensure the time and finances are available so that your people are adequately educated. There are many opportunities for external help in this area; all you need to do is identify the need to seek this help out, schedule it, and ensure it is funded.

COMMUNICATION

The important items above need to be communicated. A good communication plan shows the employees the level of commitment the organization has to safety. Sharing your statistics reminds everyone of the commitment and reinforces your implemented safety procedures. Share with them information on the organization’s investment in safety; this shows you have skin the game as well and are committed to safety.

The above is meant to get your head in the game and get you to start thinking about those critical safety aspects that need to occur on an annual, if not on a monthly, basis. Safety should be an ongoing process, a journey if you will. Establish the trigger for your organization to brush off your safety plan.

As always, keep safety at the top of your list and ensure you and those around you live to see another day.

Thomas Domitrovich, P.E., manages a team of Application Engineers for the Circuit Protection Division of Eaton Corporation within the Bussmann business, an IEC National Platinum Partner. Thomas is based out of St. Louis, Missouri, and has more than 25 years of experience as an Electrical Engineer. He is a LEED Accredited Professional and a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Pennsylvania. Thomas is active in various trade organizations including the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Thomas is Principle member of Code Making Panel 2 for the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70) and an Alternate member on NFPA 73 both, representing NEMA.