Anyone who has ever taken a family trip has likely ended the journey with someone saying, “back at home, safe and sound.” Simply put, this expression refers to returning home in good condition, free of injury, damage, and accidents.
Having employees able to return home “safe and sound” after the workday is certainly one of your goals. It is also a goal of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which celebrates Safe + Sound Week each year. The event — which kicks off the year-round campaign to encourage every workplace to have a safety and health program — takes place every August.
Successful safety and health programs proactively identify and control risks in the workplace before they turn into workplace accidents or illnesses. Businesses implementing successful programs see benefits beyond increases in employee safety, such as improved productivity, quality, engagement, and more. Whether your business is new to developing a program or you’re looking to re-energize an existing program, keep these three key components in mind:
Management leadership When senior managers demonstrate care about safety and health, that attitude flows all the way down to the workers on the front lines. Management can show commitment to the safety and health program by creating and following policy statements, participating in safety meetings and other employee engagement events, and financially supporting safety and health activities. Like everything else in business, success starts at the top.
Worker participation Nobody knows more about the potential hazards in a job than the workers who perform it every day. Workers involved in finding solutions to hazards are more likely to support those solutions when they are implemented. When their ideas are implemented, they continue to bring even more ideas that can benefit the business.
Find and fix hazards. Finding workplace hazards is easy, for the most part. Items on the floor can cause trips and falls. Lifting heavy items can lead to back injuries. With management leadership and worker participation, the root causes of these hazards can be assessed and proper solutions — consistent with the hierarchy of hazard control — can be implemented to prevent an accident from happening or ensure that it doesn’t recur.
Although comprehensive safety and health programs involve many components, starting with these three critical areas — and the associated employee training, workplace audits, and formal safety procedures that each of them include — gets businesses on a great path to sending their workers home “safe and sound” each day.
For more information about Safe + Sound week, including a wide variety of checklists, posters, and other resources, check out OSHA’s Safe + Sound materials.