Pamela Walaski, CSP, CHMM
Director – Health and Safety, GAI Consultants, Inc.
For firms in the A/E industry, a robust health and safety program is a top priority year-round for two reasons. First and foremost, employees are a firm’s most valuable asset, and we need to protect them, take care of them, and keep them healthy and safe.
Secondly, there is the business side to health and safety awareness. If there are no injuries and things are running smoothly, production is more efficient, employees are safe, and clients get projects completed in a timely manner. Safety is important to our clients because they believe completing project tasks in the safest manner is truly the most cost efficient and productive way. It is important to understand that every safety concern is an opportunity to learn and look for areas of improvement in the system.
So what are some ways to make your workplace safe and healthy for employees? Following is a list of core safety program elements that an effective health and safety program should embrace. Employees should utilize these and other processes to implement a “health and safety culture.”
1. Develop and implement a Health and Safety Program throughout the organization.
2. Use your firm’s Intranet to communicate your Health and Safety program so employees have easy access to the latest Health and Safety information and tools.
3. Hire dedicated, full-time Health and Safety Program team members to answer questions or concerns.
4. Create an Employee Safety Suggestion Box so employees can submit comments, suggestions, ideas, and photographs—and review and consider the suggestions to improve your Health and Safety program.
5. Distribute periodic safety topics to continually remind staff of effective preventative strategies. Include a short quiz to verify employees’ understanding of the subject matter.
6. Offer in-house training on topics such as First Aid/CPR/AED certification, OSHA, MSHA, SafeLand, and other project-specific health and safety training courses throughout your offices.
7. Distribute Health and Safety “Lessons Learned” Bulletins and Alerts, to share workplace incident investigation results and the corrective actions used to avoid a reoccurrence.
8. Conduct new employee onboarding sessions to stress the “continuous improvement” nature of the company’s Health and Safety Program and culture.
Employees have a responsibility to themselves and to one another; encourage every employee to be aware of his or her surroundings, and take action if they recognize an unsafe condition. Employee health and safety is a high priority that cannot be successful without everyone’s participation and awareness—because safety takes all of us!