Strategy #1: Work toward a 100% reporting culture
Focus on developing openness in reporting injuries and “near misses,” as well as encouraging workers to identify and report unsafe conditions.
Don’t insult employees with such slogans as, “All injuries are preventable” and “No injuries are acceptable.” Although there’s nothing wrong with a vision of no workplace accidents, avoid evangelizing – most employees don’t believe in this approach, making it counterproductive. Blair cites examples of underreporting based on fear of retaliation adding that these slogans focus on the downstream (injuries), don’t give workers specifics on how to improve, and are often nothing more than “feel good” catch phrases for management.
To develop a 100% reporting culture based on employee trust, management needs to make reporting easy, ensure anonymity (wherever possible) and take high profile follow-up actions – employees need to know that they’ve been heard.
Strategy # 2: Develop safety awareness with meaningful safety rules
Too many companies have such voluminous and complex safety procedures that they’re “unknowable.” It makes sense to invite participation from workers in developing rules that are dynamic, practical and relevant, monitored and enforced, communicated effectively, and improved continually.
Strategy # 3—Help leaders understand how to act consistently in developing a safety culture
“Most CEOs are very bright people,” notes’ Blair, “but they don’t know how to lead in this area.” Safety professionals must help teach leaders how to develop the culture. Workplace safety is a multifaceted web of processes, systems, and people. The best solutions focus on observation: leading by walking around (LBWA) monitoring the workplace, and, most importantly, listening to workers.
Blair’s conclusion: “Developing a safety culture isn’t rocket science – it’s far more complex than that.”
Although we're all familiar with the dangers of alcohol and illegal drugs in the workplace, many businesses have paid little attention to the effects of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Yet, some of these drugs can cause serious impairments and could interact with other drugs or foods in ways that can jeopardize workplace safety. For example, a study the University of Iowa found that a dose of Benadryl – a common OTC antihistamine – can impair driving performance as much as alcohol. More potent prescription drugs can cause even stronger and more dangerous reactions, such as slowing brain activity and impairing thinking and judgment. Breakdown products from some prescription medications can stay in the body for days, affecting coordination, concentration, and judgment.
Be sure to educate your workers about possible impairments and how to use prescription and OTC drugs safely. Encourage them to inform themselves about the possible job safety risks taking medications. For OTC medications, workers can inform themselves about warnings and side effects simply by reading the label.
To find out about possible impairment caused by prescription drugs, employees should speak to the healthcare provider who issues their prescription. For example, they should tell the provider:
They should also ask about side affects that could affect job safety.
Require employees to inform their supervisor if they're taking any medication that could cause impairment – especially if their job involves any kind of safety hazard. Depending on the risks, the supervisor might decide to reassign the employee temporarily while he or she is taking the medication.