November 16, 2017
Safety isn't just part of your day-to-day operations. It's an entire sector that constantly evolves, advances and pushes itself to higher standards. Laws change. New certifications are introduced. Technologies and best practices are updated all the time to heighten safety outcomes.
If you're a full-time health and safety manager, this is exciting. It's great to see your industry grow, and you probably have a good handle on how to grow along with it. You have the education, tools and the language to understand industry changes and apply them to your organization.
But if you're a small business owner whose business has safety requirements, you may not be in a position to hire a dedicated health and safety manager to oversee operations, leaving you, the business owner, in charge of safety, even if it's not your area of expertise.
This can be challenging and even intimidating. You want to operate in a legal and ethical fashion, and you want your employees to be safe, but finding the time to establish and manage a safety program between all of the other things you do as a business manager can be complicated.
Here are a few steps you can take to manage safety without a safety manager.
Depending on the specific nature of your organization and the work that you do, you may be required to take certain safety courses and obtain certifications. However, you may want to consider looking past the minimum requirements. The more training you can get in safety management, the better equipped you will be to run that part of your business. Think of safety management training as an investment into your business--the better equipped you are to understand and manage safety processes, the less likely you and your team are to make costly and dangerous errors.
And of course education isn't just about certifications and courses. It also means staying up to date with legislation and best practices. Know what is required for your type of business and remember that rules may change as your service scope evolves, your number of employees goes up or if you accept work in other jurisdictions. Make regular updates to your policies and processes based on legislation and best practices, and make sure those changes are communicated to your staff. Most local governments provide safety management resources on their websites for business owners, so be sure to draw on those.
Make it a team effort
Creating a culture of safety isn't a one-person job. The whole team has to be invested in the process in order for it to work. Plus the more involvement you have from your staff, the lighter the load is on you. Task members of your team with helping you out on various safety management tasks, and, if possible, support those interested in taking safety certification courses.
Use a safety app
Half the battle of safety management is organization. Being able to track activities, compare reports and store all of your safety information in one place is key to being thorough and not overlooking serious issues.
A good safety app or software can do a lot of the legwork for you when it comes to safety management. Instead of spending your time tracking down paper reports, you can get an at-a-glance, comprehensive look at your company's safety activities and challenges without having to compromise the tie you need for other business management activities.
An important feature that a good safety app will provide you is comparative reports. Being able to look at incidents and near misses year over year gives you a good snapshot of your progress or areas that need improvement within your safety program.
Bring in an independent contractor
Though you can learn to manage safety effectively as a business owner, there may be times when it is worth your while to contract an independent health and safety consultant on a temporary basis to help you out. And independent consultant is a good investment when establishing your safety program and manual, or when overhauling them, as they will be able to set you up with a good foundation to work from. It may also be beneficial to bring in a consultant on an annual basis to review your safety processes and reports so you can make sure you're on the right track.
The idea of taking on safety management might feel overwhelming at first, but it's probably more manageable than you think. Take your time, rely on online resources (such as on your provincial government's website), and don't be afraid to ask questions of those in the know.
You got this!