You want your company to stay safe, but in a high-risk industry, keeping everyone safe is a full-time job.
That’s exactly why the right environmental, health and safety (EHS) process is so important.
With the right process, you can build a safety culture that lasts. You can get your employees involved and work together to create a safer workplace.
Here are a few steps that you should include in your EHS process and why you need them.
Define Expectations and Communication
The first step in any successful EHS process is to define (and communicate) your expectations.
Having management say that they want to improve safety is one thing. The problem is, that message doesn’t resonate with your employees. Instead, re-tool that message to say, “We don’t want anyone to get hurt,” and clearly define what has to happen so that no one gets hurt.
For example, it’s not enough to say that you want better chemical safety. You have to communicate why it’s so important on a personal level and what your workers can do to keep each other safe.
None of this works without a culture of open communication. And remember, communication is a two-way street. Your employees should be able to come to you with problems just as easily as you can go to them.
From there, you need to establish a system of accountability.
It’s not enough to say that you want everyone visibly involved. You need some sort of system to ensure that everyone is visibly involved.
Start by breaking down the responsibilities of each person in the workplace. Everyone should know the role they play and the tasks entrusted to them. That way, you have a standard of measurement to check whether everyone is on track.
Keep in mind, this isn’t punitive. Quite the opposite. The goal is not to punish workers for making mistakes but rather to keep them safe if mistakes happen. It’s not an indictment of your workers – it’s an investment in their wellbeing.
Plus, accountability isn’t just about workers. Managers must also be held accountable for their role in maintaining a safe working environment.
Management should know this and so should workers.
Report, Report, Report
To achieve and measure EHS program success, safety must be front and center in your reporting.
Part of building an accountability system is creating a standardized auditing system. Safety reporting software can help, but employees and managers should always know their reporting expectations regardless of whether or not you have software to help.
You also need to educate your employees on the importance of reporting safety hazards, accidents, injuries, and near-misses. In a strong safety culture, the burden of reporting lies just as much with employees as it does with managers. After all, employees are most exposed to risk and most likely to see hazards.
In order for any of this to work, you have to build trust throughout your entire EHS process.
If you’re implementing new safety procedures, be prepared for pushback. The important thing is to keep the water calm. Remind your team that these new procedures are designed to protect them, not punish them.
Always communicate what’s going on with your employees and be crystal clear about what you expect of your employees. They can’t live up to expectations if they don’t know what those expectations are, and you can’t expect them to be open with you if you’re not open with them.
Strengthening Your EHS Process
A truly good EHS process isn’t a one-and-done system. It evolves. It takes on new tools and adapts to changing demands.