The overarching goal of safety management is to improve the safety program. That could be through compliance, policies, or procedures. Unfortunately, when you’re bogged down with trainings, inspections, new hires, meetings, or more; there’s little room to focus on continuous improvement. But, when you manage your program through repeatable safety processes, it gives you more time and changes your focus.
As a safety manager, it’s easy to fill your day with whatever “emergency” landed in your lap. The results in spending your time putting out fires. Instead of focusing on improving your program.
As your efficiency and time shrinks, your stress level increases.
What it Looks Like to Work by Safety Processes
Safety Processes are batches of recurring tasks. It’s doing the work that is related in some way at the same time. Safety processes could also be spreading the work out over time.
Although doing all your safety training one time during the year is efficient. It’s not effective. 3-4 hours of safety training in one big chunk will limit your employee’s comprehension.
The same goes for observations and inspections. If these are only done once a month or once a quarter, the results will have a smaller impact on the safety program. Limiting your potential results.
As you’re creating your safety processes, keep these two facts in mind. You need to balance efficiency and effectiveness.
Create safety processes where you do a little every week of the month. This will improve your safety awareness. Plus, it makes it easier to schedule your time.
Batching your Safety Processes
Another way to look at safety processes is by batching. There is definitely time that can be saved when you group your recurring tasks together.
This means doing all the tasks at one time that require either the same location or tools. They have a similar context to them.
For example, when you’re doing an inspection in one area of your facility, you could also do a department assessment. Or coach the supervisor working in that area
The goal of creating batches of safety processes is to be efficient in your time.
The Basic Safety Processes You Need to Have in Place
New Hire Orientation
Training your new employees is one of the most important tasks. They’re usually a group that has the most injuries. But doing this training multiple times a week is not ideal.
Work with your Human Resources Department to schedule all new hires to start on the same day. This could be weekly or bi-weekly. In fact, some companies only have new hires begin once a month.
Although not all regulations require refresher training, it’s a good practice. But doing it all at one time does not give you the best results.
Break your training topics up into monthly topics. All your safety promotions, incentives, toolbox talks, and training can be around that same topic.
The buyer has to see or hear about the product more than 7 times before they’re ready to buy in sales. Make your refresher topics a month-long promotion. You can touch them multiple times and ways with the same information.
See the post Are You Making Your Safety Promotions Effective? for ideas on applying this method.
This benefits you in many ways – 1 – you save time, 2 – you’re confident the employees are well trained and informed, and 3 – safety awareness and comprehension are increased.
Like refresher training, create safety processes for updating your safety policies. This is an often-underutilized safety management task. Left to be done whenever time permits – which is never.
Instead, approach your policy updates as a continuous improvement process. You would get more value out of them. This is hard to do if you do them all at once.
To free up your time and make this task more effective.
I have two tools to help you with your safety policy process
- Check out this article 10 Steps to Managing Policies like a Safety Professional
- Download this sample Safety Program and Training Calendar. Every month it shows you how to plan for training and policy updates.
Reports and Distribution
Generating reports about the key data points are crucial for safety improvement. But doing the data entry, creating the reports, and distributing them can be a time suck.
Batch all your report tasks and block out the time on your schedule. Do all the data entry together. Create the reports in one sitting.
Distributing the reports may be harder to batch. If you’re sharing them in meetings, then get them ready for the meeting all at one time.
Be mindful of the balance between efficiency and effectiveness when emailing reports. Sending out a bunch of reports all at once almost guarantees no one will read them.
Or, consider sending them once or twice a week. You can schedule the emails to send on a particular day and time. That way, they’re spread out, and your managers are not getting overloaded with data.
As a safety professional, it’s a best practice to inspect your entire facility at least one time a quarter. Even if your management or maintenance team is doing it as well. Your insight on regulations may spot something that they miss.
Also, you may want to do equipment specific inspections. Like fire extinguishers, exit lights, machine guarding.
Batch inspections into larger time chunks instead of doing them all at once. This will free up your time to work on improvement projects. Group the areas of your facility together—either weekly or monthly complete an inspection on that group.
No matter how hard our world tries to go paperless, there will inevitably be paper. In fact, using paper may be quicker in some cases.
Watch this video to help you with reducing the paperwork in safety.
When creating safety processes around paperwork, there are a few batching ideas you want to stick to.
- Only file during your batched time – do it all at once.
- Create inboxes for the type of paperwork – SDSs, Training forms, New Hire, Inspections
- Let it pile up. Most paperwork can sit for a month, allowing you to catch up one time a month. If the piles are getting too big, change your process to every 3 weeks, then 2 weeks…until you find that balance.
The Results of Using Safety Processes
When you have all your processes in place, you will start to see a routine in your daily work. Although every day as a safety manager is different.
Your day will change from an assortment of various tasks to chunks of time dedicated to a process.
- Monday is your training day
- Tuesday focuses on reports
- Wednesday weekly inspections
- Thursday observations
- Friday promotions
Or it may break down by the week of the month
- Week 1 – Inspections
- Week 2 – Training
- Week 3 – Meetings, paperwork, reports
- Week 4 – Coaching and observations
First, download the sample of the program and training calendar. This is a great place to start.
Create your own calendar and set a goal date to start using this process.
As you create new safety processes, put the chunks of time you will do them on your calendar. Schedule the time like it’s a meeting. That way, they always get done.
Enjoy the benefits of having more time to do the most important work – improving your safety program.
Now it’s Your Turn
When I put these safety processes in place in my life, I gained at least 2 days a week. I used that time to focus 100% on continuous improvement. I want to hear how it worked for you.
Try one process I outlined and comment below. Did you save time? And what did you do with your extra time?
Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)! I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience. Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world. I would love to help you too.