WMA Headlines Aug/Sept 2018

July 12th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Define. Demonstrate. Elevate.

It Takes an Entire Company to Prevent Injuries on the Job

By Rosalie Leone

Every member of the business community would like to think their factory, office building or job-site is a safe and productive place with healthy working conditions. However, numbers for overall workplace safety in the U.S. are sobering.

• According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 there were 5,190 reported work fatalities, seven percent more than in 2015 and the highest since 2008.

• Also, in 2016, private employers reported 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses.

Research exclusive to the wood products industry indicates that these are some of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) website on wood products, the equipment poses numerous hazards, particularly when ma-chines are used improperly or without proper safeguards.

The data is even more regrettable when we realize that virtually all work-related injuries and illnesses are preventable through things like redesign, protective equipment, engineering solutions and training.

General manufacturing and construction accident numbers may align somewhat with our industry, but we need a way to zero in and address the particular health and safety issues in the millwork industry. Therefore, World Millwork Alliance (WMA) has created a Mill-work Safety Committee to research and promote health and safety solutions. It will look for common threads, problem areas, and share what other members are doing. Our first project is underway—to gather and evaluate safety information provided by members.

In Good Company

A comprehensive health and safety policy—and its enforcement —should be part of your company’s brand. Being known as a clean, safe, well-ordered place to work not only helps your reputation in the marketplace, it also can help you attract and retain top talent. It shows that you value your employees.

In addition, companies should be aware that OSHA has renewed its alliance with the National Association of Women in Construction. This pact promotes efforts to target hazards specific to women in construction, including selection of personal protective equipment and workplace intimidation and violence.

The role of management in your company’s health and safety policy should be well-defined and communicated to all employees. According to OSHA, it is management that provides the leadership, vision and resources needed to make certain the company’s policy is fully understood and being implemented

Overall, says David Michaels, a former assistant secretary of labor at OSHA, it should always start from the top down, and the message should be, “We care about safety because we care about you—doing it right means no one gets hurt.”

Supervisors and safety managers should enforce all procedures and regulations and monitor daily operations to make certain they comply with your company’s safety policies. Their role is to ensure that safety and health hazards are corrected or eliminated. They should use their experience and knowledge of the workplace to make certain that meetings are educational and incidents are reported and investigated, and they should always be on the lookout for ways to make the jobsite safer.

What About the Workers?

While it is the responsibility of the employee to follow all the rules, regulations and procedures set forth by OSHA and in the company safety policy, their involvement doesn’t stop there.

For their own safety and that of their coworkers, employees need to refuse to do unsafe work and report any real or potential health or safety hazard. Plus, employees who demonstrate attention to safety details should be recognized by management for doing so. Also, ask for input from employees, and incentivize safe behavior with gift cards or other rewards.

Going through the process of establishing a company-wide safety and health management system can help your company reevaluate the significance of safety in the workplace.

Another perk? Managing health and safety is linked to operational excellence. A culture of safety management means safer jobsites, more satisfied employees, improved retention, reduced recruitment costs, and a great reputation as a firm that values its employees.

Rosalie Leone is the CEO of the World Millwork Alliance.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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