What Makes an Effective Proactive Safety Program?

Safety Equipment

When you look at your safety program, do you truly believe it’s proactive? Proactive behavior means acting in advance before anything happens. It’s very important to be involved in your employees’ day-to-day work activities so you’re aware of what might occur if you don’t take proactive measures.

Make your proactive plan

Prime contractors may ask for your “proactive number,” but few contractors know what that is or what to do with it. It’s great to have your field level risk assessments (FLRAs), Job Hazards Analyses (JHAs), behavior-based safety program, and audits — but what you do with this information is what’s important to complete your proactive safety program. When you have an incident, it’s too late to be proactive because the event already happened.

Some dangers, for example

  • You know winter is coming, as it does every year, but your employees don’t order traction aids before the season hits. You get the snow or ice storm you knew was coming, yet you’re not prepared for it. A worker then falls and breaks her leg due to conditions and lack of proactive planning. Now you have to be reactive due to the worker’s injury.
  • You audited and noticed there’s quite a bit of debris around work locations — but nobody does anything about it. A welder comes in but doesn’t clean up the combustible debris. During the take, some slag hits the debris, catches fire, and now there’s a major event because you didn’t take action based on what you found on your audit report. When you submit your audit reports, ensure your employees review them and take care of all items. Also, remind workers to look at their work areas and clean up before beginning their tasks, if needed.
  • It’s time for a behavior-based safety observation, and your employees mention the parking lot needs “enter” and “exit” signs to guide traffic at the end of shifts or lunch time. They brought it up a few times, but you never acted because you didn’t take it seriously. One day after work, someone comes into the lot and hits another car that was leaving. Again, you’re reacting because you didn’t read and act on the information your employees gave you.

A way around the issues

Having employees fill out paperwork and participate in the safety program is only half the battle, as you need to analyze this information on a weekly basis and see exactly where your program is, proactively. Complete a weekly scorecard for each of your divisions, then post it everyone to see. If any proactive number is below 85%, visit that location to see the struggles. Don’t wait to look into the issue. Dealt with it right away. With this type of program, a lot of work goes into keeping the program moving forward.

Review your behavior-based safety program weekly and focus on the lagging indicators that show up on the cards the following week.

Some good examples

  • At the end of August, you know for a fact winter will be coming very soon. You begin purchasing traction aids and shovels as well as ensuring your employees make sand boxes, place them on location, and fill them. As part of your winterization plan, you’re preparing for the start of winter.
  • There was a lock out tag out issue on a job site. The following week, you revolve your focus audits around lock out tag out. Then you dig a little deeper to see what the issues were and keep improving on them so no one will have an incident.

A proactive safety program is a lot of work and takes a lot of buy in from upper management. Once you show them how it works and what happens with incidents once they follow it, there’s usually no issue in implementing the program. Your safety record will speak for itself once the program is up and running on all cylinders.