Considering the tremendous diversity of retail settings, programs that promote safety in the workplace can be just as diverse. There is no universal safety program that is right for all retail organizations.
Every program must be tailored to the size, management style, and type of operation when designing the specific details of the program. However, a number of elements are common to all effective safety programs. On a broad scale, we have reviewed many of those elements and have broken down several of the key components of a successful program:
Having a Safety and Health Policy – We must have a clearly stated policy on safe and healthful work and working conditions so that all within the organization understand the priority of safety and health protection in relation to other organizational values.
Setting Goals and Developing Objectives – We must establish and communicate our goals for the safety program and the objectives for meeting those goals, so that all members of the organization understand the desired results and the measures planned for achieving them.
Active and Visible Leadership from Top Management – All levels of management, starting at the top of the organization, must provide visible leadership in implementing the program and ensuring that all employees are provided exemplary safety and health protection.
Getting Employees Involved – We must provide for and encourage employee involvement throughout the organization in the development and implementation of the program; and in decisions that affect safety and health, so that everyone will commit their insights and energy to achieving the safety program’s goal and objectives.
Safety Training and Awareness – We must implement programs and educate our team on the types of safety issues that they may encounter in the workplace, developing the knowledge, awareness and perceptions of safety issues in order to minimize risks and prevent incidents.
Assigning Responsibilities – We must assign and communicate responsibility for all aspects of the program so that everyone in the organization knows what performance is expected of them. Everyone has a shared responsibility for safety in the workplace. It should be clearly understood by all employees what their responsibilities are, and what discipline will be forthcoming if they fail to carry out those responsibilities.
Providing Adequate Authority – We must provide adequate authority and resources to responsible parties so that assigned responsibilities can be met. The company must provide the tools necessary for the safety program to be successful.
Giving and Receiving Accountability – We must hold everyone accountable for meeting their responsibilities so that essential tasks will be performed. Accountability for one’s actions must accompany the responsibility given and the authority and resources provided. Holding employees accountable helps them see how important they are to the overall success of the program.
Rewarding Success – Although safety is part of everyone’s job responsibility, rewarding success is an effective means of energizing any program or initiative. Part of the process must include positive feedback to the store level teams on accomplished goals and targets.
Evaluating the Program – We must review the safety program on a regular and consistent basis to evaluate success, identify strengths and deficiencies, and revise the program where necessary and appropriate. Documentation and accurate record keeping is a key part of the program to support our actions and initiatives.
Every retail organization must develop a systematic approach to safety in the workplace and their safety management program that incorporates each of these factors into their program and further enhances the primary issues and objectives within their particular organization. Additionally, companies must attack the leading causal factors and indicators of accidents and safety concerns within the organization, further developing the specific elements that help us build a world-class safety program.
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This post was originally published in 2016 and was updated July 13, 2017.