Getting Back to the Basics of Safety – Prevention

Kristi Pronovost Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

By: Kevin B. Keith, Director of Safety Services, ABC Keystone

There is an adage that states, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When one considers safety and health programs, this statement becomes very true. In many of the OSHA specific trainings that I provide, there is a recurrent theme. Employers should focus more on pre-planning worksites to ensure the safety of the employees.

Many attendees are surprised to learn that the employer is required to complete job hazard assessments or analyses to determine risks in specific tasks. Part of this requirement is to then mitigate the hazards identified and to train the employees regarding the mitigation procedures. This approach can and should be applied to all aspects of the construction process.

Project management is a critical part of the completion of a project. Having the right materials for the job, coordinating the right tools, procuring fasteners and connectors, having a production schedule, and coordinating delivery all are considered prior to starting a project. Doesn’t it make sense to do the same with safety?

Some states require employers to have written Injury and Illness Prevention Programs, otherwise known as I2P2. These programs detail the employers’ systematic process of proactively addressing hazards specific to the workplace. There were attempts made by OSHA to make I2P2 a regulated requirement in General Industry. There were six key areas to be addressed, which included Management Duties, Employee Participation, Hazard Identification and Assessment, Hazard Prevention and Control, Education and Training, and finally the Assessment of the Program’s Effectiveness.

Ultimately, the regulation was not instituted, but the methodology is solid. Being proactive by assessing work tasks for hazards and then creating a plan to address the hazards before someone gets hurt is the best means to actively protecting the worker. Much the same as planning a project for materials and labor, employers plan to protect the worker by eliminating known hazards. The written program detailed the roles of both management and the employees and provided a means to best communicate hazards and provide guidance for the steps to eliminate the risk.

Not all hazards will be identified in the completion of a hazard assessment. Therefore, employers still need other methods to address hazards in order to keep their employees safe. This can be accomplished through an effective preventive maintenance program to ensure equipment is operating smoothly, creating a means to report near misses and investigating them, and completing detailed incident investigations that identify the root cause and provide solutions for mitigation. Taking the time to put some forethought into addressing hazards before an injury occurs is time well spent. Remember I2P2 if you are looking to lower your injury rates and better protect your workers.

ABC Keystone’s safety team can help to perform hazard assessments and train your employees for safety success. Simple safety planning and prevention is worth more than a pound of cure for your safety issues!