As an agribusiness, how many on-the-job accidents did you have last year? To prevent injuries and spend less on related costs, you need an integrated approach. A safety program that is both compliant with occupational health and safety (OH&S) standards and designed for continuous improvement can help you realize overall cost savings.

Build an integrated safety program

There are five steps your facility can take to have a well-rounded program that produces a safe work environment, achieves OH&S compliance, reduces accidents, and ultimately reduces workers’ compensation costs.

1. Develop the programs required by OH&S standards. Aside from being a requirement for agribusiness employers, OH&S standards provide a roadmap to incident reductions. A substantial number of accidents stem from poorly developed or implemented OH&S programs:

• Pinch point injuries are often a result of poor equipment handling procedures
• Illnesses can arise from a lack of proper training and control measures when working with chemicals
• Inadequate personal protective equipment training and use can result in avoidable eye and face injuries

Experience shows that operations with thoroughly developed OH&S compliance programs have fewer accidents, more productive employees, and lower costs.

2. Integrate the safety programs into daily activities. Policies alone won’t get results; a safety program must move from paper to practice to succeed, with a clearly communicated strategic plan, thorough execution of the plan, and a culture that inspires and rewards people for performing at their best. Your supervisors play a pivotal role in the successful rollout of your safety initiative. If your field team understands the safety program and is motivated to make it happen, the program will succeed. Providing team leads with knowledge and skills through training is critical to the success of your safety program.

A robust program, integrated into daily field operations and led by competent supervisors is a good starting point, but successful safety programs focus on being proactive instead of reactive. Accident investigations provide an excellent source of information on real or potential issues present in the workplace.

3. Investigate all incidents, injuries, and illnesses. You can significantly enhance your ability to reduce accidents when all incidents are thoroughly investigated instead of simply being reported. Accident reports are historical records that cite facts. Accident investigations go deeper to find the root cause and make improvements. Successful businesses have an effective accident investigation process that flushes out the root cause of a problem. Any recommendations for improvement stand a higher chance for success if the root cause of an incident is discovered.

Reducing serious accidents means you must reduce your overall rate of all incidents, including “first aid only” incidents. An overall reduction is only possible when every occurrence is thoroughly investigated to find the root cause, and corrective actions are identified and integrated into your daily operations.

4. Provide training to develop safety competence for all employees. The next step focuses on training your staff, which plays a significant role in keeping your employees safe and reducing workers’ compensation costs. The goal of training is to develop competent people who have the knowledge, skill, and understanding to perform assigned job responsibilities. A well-trained supervisor who’s skilled in incident analysis is often a better problem solver for a range of workplace issues. Competence, more than anything else, will improve all aspects of your business and drive down costs. Every worker must know what’s expected of them when it comes to implementing safe work procedures.

5. Audit programs and work areas regularly to stimulate continuous improvement. The final step focuses on auditing your program for continuous improvement. Once the programs are developed and implemented, they must be reviewed regularly to make sure they are still relevant and effective.
Implementing the five steps listed above may require time and a significant change in how you manage your safety program, but doing so will allow you to reap the full benefit of your safety initiatives, and help you to control costs.

Gain Tangible Benefits

• Studies indicate that companies see direct bottom-line benefits with a properly designed, implemented, and integrated safety program
• A competency-based safety program is compliant with OH&S requirements
• Following a safety program can decrease the number of accidents, which will result in lower workers’ compensation costs; should an incident occur, a competency-based safety program evaluates the issue to find the root cause to prevent reoccurrence, resulting in a workplace that is free from recognized hazards
• A safer workplace can boost morale and improves employee retention; regular auditing keeps your programs fresh and effective, driving continuous improvement.
• A competency-based program produces employees who are fully engaged in every aspect of their jobs and are satisfied and fulfilled

Cowan is committed to helping you establish an active safety program. Contact us today to learn more about our OH&S compliance and safety program resources.