(Part 3 of the Safety Series.  See Tip 85 and Tip 86 for the entire series.)

A Safety program is a living, growing, changing system.  If not – if it’s on the shelf – it won’t survive day-to-day problems and priorities.  And everyone will be surprised when the accident does occur.  Everyone except OSHA, that is.  And they’ll wonder why that Safety policy wasn’t read, trained, understood or taken seriously.

This Tip touches on two more areas of a robust Safety Plan: communication and identifying hazards.


Regular communication is the lifeblood of an effective Safety program.  It must be an “all-the-time” priority at every level and responsibility: engage in open, non-judgmental, everyday, back-and-forth, up-and-down conversations; distribute articles; hold safety meetings, get input, ensure understanding.

One effective technique is for all those at the “top” giving permission to everyone else – “Please remind me / tell me if I ever forget to be safe.”  This is best done person-to-person, not by email or bulletin board, and over and over so it sinks in.  Encouraging others to make the same requests will help ingrain Safety into your company and team culture.

Identifying Hazards

Hazard identification is the most important active element of any Safety program: the goal is to identify and evaluate unsafe work conditions so that accidents, injuries, and job related illnesses are minimized, if not completely eliminated.

And this is a great way to further communication and teamwork.  Each unit can identify safety hazards in its own workspace, and often add great perspective to other areas.  Be comprehensive and accept all input:  a hazard does not have to be life threatening to be noted and perhaps eliminated.  The longer the list and the broader the participation, the more understanding you’ll get and the safer you will become.  Don’t forget to insist employees do a safety analysis at every jobsite or when new equipment is added.  This is called a Job Safety analysis or JSA.

A client recently told me he was surprised and angry to have found sloppy, overcrowded work areas in his shop.  We talked about how best to get the “needs improvement” message back to employees in a meaningful way.

He concluded that to have a small shop team meeting, ask them for input and request they make a “before and after” presentation to all staff would be much better than public embarrassment or a discipline process.

He made a great decision and made this one team a positive part of the solution – not of the problem.

What’s your experience with teamwork or Safety communication?  Add a comment below.

Do you need a Hazards Checklist or a sample IIPP? Call Charles (510-685-3883) to talk about your unique concerns or questions.