This article was originally written for the National Portable Storage Association (NPSA) newsletter in January 2021. We think safety is a universally important topic, so we're republishing it here in its entirety to benefit our blog readers.
Does your company have a safety program? Do you want to start a safety program and don’t know where to start? Is it something that seems like a barrier to implement with all of the other business operations that take place? Those are all valid questions that anyone looking at a safety program thinks about. I have some tips to get you started that will answer some of those questions.
For starters, I am sure you see more efforts regarding safety in most industries, and we are all hearing more about it. That is a good thing. The world is working to be a safer place. One of our goals with NPSA is to embrace that effort and to help our members get started. Don’t be intimidated by safety. Creating a safety program and culture is a process, not an event.
Reasons to Consider a Safety Program
Why should you consider a safety program? Many reasons come to mind. You may need it to fulfill a customer’s requirements. You may be trying to avoid fines or improve your insurance rating. You may have concerns about employee safety and want to ensure they learn the correct ways to be safe. All of these reasons are good reasons to implement a safety program.
Keep Your Safety Program Simple!
To start with, understand that being safe does not take a lot of extra time, and it does not cause business interruptions. Ultimately it will make you better. Start with the basics like PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Basic PPE can make the biggest impact, quickly. Consider Hi-Vis vests, cut resistant gloves, eye/face protection, and safety shoes. You can also incorporate fall protection and respiratory devices. If you embrace good PPE habits, you are taking a big step to ensuring your employee’s safety.
Communicate and Use Signage
Another great tool in being safe is talking about safety and keeping it top of mind. Use basic signage and markers as reminders to be safe. Start activities with a safety moment or observation of what tasks could cause harm or risk. Start your day with a “toolbox chat” to identify and be aware of the hazards you could encounter during the day.
Clean Things Up
Keep your workplace clean, organized, and free of clutter. This helps ensure the health and safety of your workers. Maintain your tools and equipment. Get rid of bad ladders and cords. Inspect your tools and make sure the guards and safety devices with your equipment are operating correctly. This may seem like a daunting task at first but take it one step at a time. Once you get your workplace and equipment organized and operating safely, it is much easier to keep it maintained.
Understand that safety can enhance many other things, including quality. If you operate safely, the quality of your work and products will improve. Your environment will improve. You will be working in a cleaner, safer, and more pleasing atmosphere. Your employee’s attitudes and morale will improve as a result. Think about your habits on the road as well. We all operate trucks and forklifts and other large equipment. The same concepts apply. Slow down and think about things, that will go a long way in improving your safety culture.
As mentioned earlier, take small steps and keep improving. Once you have a basic safety program and manual in place and are operating with basic safety principles, you can continuously improve - it could even increase productivity. Creating a program that is too comprehensive could mean that you can’t operate or maintain it. Celebrate your accomplishments and look for ways that productivity has increased. Highlight the improvements and reward those who are improving your company. Once you see safety working for you, it improves your outlook and company. You will feel an enhanced level of pride in what you do, and it will show in your quality and customer service. We owe it to ourselves, our employees, and our companies to go home safely so we can do what we do the next day.
Feel free to reach out for support or guidance. We all have to start somewhere and take the first steps. Safety isn’t an industry secret. It is something we should all support each other with. In the future, you can take more advanced measures like having safety procedures for each workstation or task, or even incorporate a behavioral-based safety program as a next big step. For now, do something that fits for you. Just get started!
The NPSA is embracing safety as an organization, and we want to help our members. Doing this in 2021 could likely be one of the biggest improvements your organization could make this year. Good luck and have fun with it. It is an investment in your future and your people who are your most valuable assets.