February 12, 2016

Developing a Culture of Safety

Forestry can be a dangerous industry but there are important steps that can (and should) be taken to ensure the safety and health of everyone on a logging team. There is a wealth of information available on safety in the workplace and safety programs within the workplace but there are several common themes.

  • The strength of any company or organization is its people.
  • The key to success depends on a visible management commitment to safety.
  • Communication and reporting is incredibly valuable.
  • All injuries and fatalities are preventable.
  • Safety begins at home and in our daily lives.

The idea is that safety in the workplace is a continuation of safety in our daily lives. Creating a culture of safety, according to industry and agency experts, is to maintain effective standards to protect workers. Standards are voluntary practice guidelines to help workplaces meet regulatory requirements. It has been proposed that workplaces may elect to follow either prescriptive, process-driven standards or performance-based standards. Prescriptive, process-driven standards provide rules defining specific actions that must be taken in various situations. Performance-based standards are designed to meet performance goals without specifying how they are to be achieved.

Employer and Supervisor Actions for Healthier and Safer Workplaces

  • Take responsibility - Ensure that you have an effective worker/employer occupational safety committee to identify and reduce workplace hazards.
  • Meet standards – Develop and constantly review the health and safety standards that apply to your work and ensure that these standards are fully met.
  • Get help – Have contact with a safety association, private consultant or the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for more information on ensuring your working conditions are as good as they can be.
  • Train workers - Ensure that all workers are properly trained and supervised by competent personnel to work safely. Young and/or new workers tend to have more workplace injuries, largely due to inadequate training and supervision.
  • Change workplace culture - Demonstrate a genuine commitment to workplace health and safety at all levels of the organization, from the top down. Make health and safety an integral part of organizational meetings, hiring, promoting, objectives, publications, and reviews.

Employee Actions for Healthier and Safer Workplaces

Everyone has responsibility for workplace health and safety. When it comes to workplace health and safety, workers have the most to gain...or lose. The action steps below help workers exercise their fundamental rights and responsibilities…to know, to participate, and to refuse unusually dangerous work.

  • Get involved – Employees should be encouraged to identify and reduce workplace hazards.
  • Meet standards - Know the health and safety legislated standards that apply to your work and your workplace.
  • Get help - Contact health and safety web sites, OSHA, or other reliable sources for more information on working conditions. Be mindful of not only shorter-term safety issues, but also longer-term health issues related to the work you do.
  • Get trained - Get the proper training for any job you do so that you can do the tasks without endangering your safety or the safety of your coworkers.
  • Walk the talk - Demonstrate a genuine commitment to health and safety - on and off the job. Make health and safety an integral part of your way of life and support others in protecting their health and safety.