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5 Steps for a Safer Workplace

Grainger Show attendees learn importance of reducing risks to improve productivity and quality.
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Safety products has been an attractive category for distributors looking to expand their product offerings. But are they spending enough time on developing an effective safety management system within their own companies? Having a safety management system in place can have a significant impact on a company's profitability and well-being, but many are missing key elements of an effective system, according to Joel Tietjens, president of T-JENS & T-JENS Inc., Spring TX.

Tietjens spoke at the 2015 Grainger Show in Orlando, FL, earlier this month as a representative for the American Society of Safety Engineers.

A safety management system can not only reduce time lost to injuries, but it can increase productivity, improve product quality and enhance your company's public image, Tietjens said.

There are five key elements of an effective safety management system, he said, but distributors must develop their own internal dynamics to execute them.

The first element is participation. This includes everyone in the company, from the top to the bottom. It must start with leadership, but it also requires buy-in from the people in the warehouse and on the floor.

"Safety management must rest on a solid foundation of management commitment and support," Tietjens said. That support includes providing the resources to effectively develop and implement the plan. It also means being able to define and assign responsibility and accountability for the plan's elements.

The second element is planning. "Management needs to identify and prioritize the issues for an organization," he says. If you don't know where your problems are, you can't address them.

Base the prioritization on how much of an impact a problem would cause within your company, but also consider the cost of controlling the risk. "We can't eliminate all risks, and some aren't worth the cost," Tietjens said. 

Once risks have been identified and assessed, companies should focus on implementation and operation. The goal of a safety management system is to prevent or control hazards, Tietjens said,which must be done throughout the organization. Develop education and training programs to increase awareness and competency among your employees.

Evaluation and corrective action is necessary for an effective safety management system, because like so many other things, it is a continuous process. Get feedback from employees and periodically audit the processes and results.

Management review is the final element. In this stage, consider the progress in risk reduction and follow up on the feedback provided in the prior stage. Use this information to develop future direction in this area and focus on that continual improvement, Tietjens said.

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