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Improving Workplace Safety

Jan 27, 2008
In certain industries, each employer must create a safety and health program known as "A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction," or AWAIR, program, as required by Minnesota Statute 182.653 subd. 8. An AWAIR program must be in writing and there are five key points that it must address:

1. How the program will be implemented and then maintained by managers, supervisors, and employees.

2. How new or existing hazards, conditions and operations will be identified, analyzed, and then controlled.

3. The method for communicating the plan to all employees that might be affected by work-related hazards and controls.

4. How, in the event of a workplace accident, the incident will be investigated and then what corrective action will take place.

5. The type of enforcement that will be used for safe work rules and practices.

Since workplace environments are constantly changing and new employees are hired, the AWAIR program must be reviewed and analyzed for effectiveness at least annually. If workplace safety is a real concern to an employer, this task will not be difficult. Regardless of the job, employee safety should be reinforced constantly to keep employees at a high level of performance.

A healthy workplace for all employees should be a primary concern for any company, and should be supported by company policy. To always reduce the number of accidents and injuries at a jobsite should always be a goal. A safe work environment is not an individual job, however. It requires cooperation between an employee, his/her co-workers, and management. While employees are the group that is most directly affected by a safety program, the managers and supervisors are the ones who are responsible for creating and enforcing the program.

Many companies will have a safety director who is responsible for organizing a program such as AWAIR. Individual employees will report concerns to their supervisors. All the supervisors and managers of the company, who are responsible for health and safety at each specific worksite, will then report any concerns to the safety director. S/he will then set up or modify existing training programs to provide adequate personal protection for those concerned workers.

Each job location is unique and dynamic, so site supervisors should check worksites daily for compliance with the safety program implemented. A Site Safety Checklist is an easy way to do this. Because there is a danger of procedures becoming routine, and therefore lax, random inspections and reviews should also be carried out regularly.

Accidents are not completely avoidable, however. Site supervisors should investigate all accidents or near-miss events that occur. Although dangerous, these events will help the supervisor, as well as the safety director, rework the health and safety program to provide a safer working environment.

Workplace safety should be critically important to a company. Employees are one of the most important parts of a business, so keeping them safe and informed about potential risks and consequences should be a primary concern. Not only do accidents at work affect human lives, but also can affect workers' compensation costs, training expenses, productivity, and insurance rates. Violation of health and safety rules should be disciplined, while compliance to the rules should be rewarded.

The key to a successful safety program such as an AWAIR, is a clear set of goals and objectives for safety and health at the workplace. These goals should be understandable, informative, and enforced throughout the company in order to prevent accidents and preserve life. Not only will a company benefit from preventing these things, but the employees will have a higher level of performance knowing how safe their work environment is, and how much the management is concerned with their safety.
About the Author
The Minnesota twin cities law firm of Schwebel Goetz and Sieben can provide a construction accident lawyer or attorney to Minneapolis MN construction injury victims.
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