Too small to support a full-time safety person, a city had been trying to maintain its own safety program. Its management cared a lot about employee safety, but its safety program was unfocused and unorganized. At one time, the city had a safety professional on staff. When that person left, the program floundered. It wasn’t for lack of resources: the city hired multiple consultants to develop safety programs and even to do a gap analysis. In fact, the city had too many safety programs – three different safety manuals, each over 200 pages long. But most employees didn’t know they existed. Even upper management didn’t know which one was in use. Some departments used parts of one manual; others used different versions of another manual. Some parts were basically regurgitations of the standards, with instructions to supervisors to complete critical sections such as identifying their confined spaces.
CHESS started working with them by doing a comprehensive audit. That allowed us to get to know the city – who does what, what kinds of training were being provided, what their strengths were, and where the opportunities existed. With management’s strong support and input, we then began rebuilding their safety culture.
CHESS helped re-establish the safety committee, providing members with training, guiding them to develop a mission, purpose, and annual goals, and celebrating the progress the committee made each year. We worked with the safety committee and management to develop a system to review, update, and approve the safety programs. With safety committee members and other staff, we worked, program by program, to create documents that give specific direction to management, supervisors, and employees. We helped the city figure out how to organize those programs and how to make them readily accessible to all employees. The city now has safety programs, specific to their operations, approved by the safety committee and by top management, and easily found on the city’s intranet, accessible to all employees. And they now have a process for reviewing and implementing new or revised programs.
We worked with their supervisors to give them the tools they needed to drive a strong safety program. Safety no longer “belonged” to one person; it became the responsibility of everyone on staff, from the highest level managers down to the newest employee. The programs were no longer scattered; they were customized to meet their needs and kept in one central location.