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​Tools for a Successful Workplace Safety and Health Program

By Jessica Bunting

OSHA’s Safe Workplace + Sound Business Campaign, currently in its second year, encourages companies to incorporate safety and health programs into the workplace. According to OSHA, there are many ways to implement a workplace safety and health program, but one thing effective programs have in common is that they include three core elements: management leadership and commitment to the program; worker participation and engagement; and a proactive find and fix approach to hazards. Initiating a safety and health program doesn't have to be complicated or require outside consultants; in fact, there are many simple ways to get started, including ones available through CPWR – The Center for Construction Research & Training, an organizing partner of the Campaign. While our tools are created for a construction audience, several have already been adapted and used by companies in manufacturing, mining, and other industries. The following are examples of CPWR tools that can be used as components of a new safety and health program or to strengthen an existing one.

FSL powerpoint.pngThe Foundations for Safety Leadership (FSL) training module is aimed at developing leadership skills. The 2.5-hour module has been approved to be an elective in the 30-hour Construction OSHA Outreach Training Program. Developed with extensive input from researchers, construction contractor and worker representatives, trainers, and safety and health professionals, the FSL module addresses both management leadership and worker participation by providing construction foremen and other lead workers with the skills and information they need to be effective safety leaders and contribute to a strong jobsite safety climate. The highly interactive module teaches students about the costs of ineffective and the benefits of effective safety leadership and, most importantly, the five critical leadership skills and practices to use in their day-to-day interactions on the jobsite, including leading by example, engaging and empowering team members, actively listening and practicing three-way communication, developing team members through teaching, coaching, and feedback, and recognizing team members for a job well done. The FSL materials are available for free on the CPWR website and include a PowerPoint file, an instructor guide, and a student handout. A variety of supplemental materials, such as a guide to creating your own scenario and “toolbox talks,” are also available, along with a train-the-trainer curriculum.

Another set of free tools, the Safety Climate Assessment Tool (S-CAT) and the S-CAT for small employers (S-CATsc), focus on providing an opportunity for employers to evaluate where their company stands with regards to safety climate as measured by eight research-based leading indicators. In the area of safety, construction companies often rely on lagging indicators, such as the number and types of injuries that have already occurred, to measure performance. A leading indicator is a measure that precedes injuries and can be used to plan activities that, when properly implemented, prevent injuries and illnesses and foster a positive jobsite safety climate. The eight leading indicators identified through an interagency safety climate workshop include:

  • Demonstrating management commitment
  • Aligning and integrating safety as a value
  • Ensuring accountability at all levels
  • Improving supervisory leadership
  • Empowering and involving employees
  • Improving communication
  • Training at all levels 
  • Encouraging owner/client involvement

By taking the S-CAT, either online or in a paper format, companies can get a customized report that assesses their jobsite safety climate maturity, allows them to see how they compare to other companies that have completed the S-CAT, and provides recommendations for improvement. The S-CATsc is designed specifically for small contractors who may not have the same amount of time and resources as larger contractors to devote to the assessment and to carrying out recommendations. While these contractors will receive a report that shows the results of their assessment and ideas for making improvements, the results are also being used by CPWR to identify where small employers need help and to identify or develop tools and resources they can use to improve their safety climate.

To fully explain and answer questions about these and other safety climate resources, CPWR has produced a series of webinars. The most recent webinar, Tools for a Successful Workplace Safety & Health Program, took place in February as part of the Safe + Sound Campaign, and provided information on new updates to the FSL and the adaptation of the S-CAT for small employers. This webinar and two previous background webinars can now be viewed on-demand.

For access to the free webinars, tools, and resources mentioned in this article along with other relevant materials, visit CPWR’s Safe + Sound page.

jessica-bunting_120px-v2.jpgJessica Bunting, MPH, works in research to practice (r2p) at CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR). The r2p initiative aims to encourage widespread adoption of evidence-based solutions by contractors and workers.

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