8 Step Guide to Creating a Safety Program

Creating a safety program can be tricky, but these 8 steps will get you started.

8 Step Guide


Whether you already have a safety program in place established in your company or not, these eight steps are intended to help you to improve safety and health conditions for your company. OSHA has requirements for safety and health already in place, which you should strive to center your safety program around. As we talk about how to best create a safety program, also keep in mind the three E’s of safety: Education, Environment, and Enforcement. We’ll focus on these three E’s in each of these steps. Consider how they relate to each step as you work to implement them into your workplace.

As the employer, you are responsible for creating a safety program. This eight step guide will give you specific actions that can be adapted for any workplace. There are principles and resources that you may need to carry out these steps that are specific to your company. You should consider your company needs and circumstances as you apply these steps to create your safety program. Whether you work in an office space, warehouse, factory, or construction site, an effective safety program will benefit everyone in the workplace.

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8 Step Guide

1. Make a Commitment to Safety

Creating your safety program begins with a simple but integral step: committing to safety. What this means is that in all aspects of the workplace safety is your first topic of discussion and the top priority. When employers emulate this idea, their employees will foster it and implement it in their daily work.

Putting safety policies and a commitment statement into writing and communicating it with your employees is a great way to begin with creating an effective safety program. That way, your commitment to safety is more than simply a good idea; it becomes a tangible representation of the company’s focus on safety in the workplace.

2. Organize a Safety Management System

A Safety Management System (SMS) encompasses the policies, procedures, and responsibilities that are included in a company’s individual safety program. Designating employees with the charge to uphold safety measures will be a good first step in organizing an SMS.

Leadership among the employees for safety roles will help strengthen the commitment and create a culture based on safety. This will also make it easier for you to receive feedback on the progress and effectiveness of safety procedures and resources put in place after you have implemented them.

3. Involve the Employees

In addition to sharing and communicating safety values and policies with the employees, you should also be sure to involve the employees in the program creation process. Their input and experience as personnel of the workplace will be incredibly valuable for putting safety and health first in the workplace. In every step of the process, they should be involved and active, since the program is for their safety as well as yours. Always consider what they have to say and encourage them to watch for and report hazards to you as soon as possible.

4. Identify Safety and Health Hazards

Every workplace will have its individual and unique circumstances and potential hazards. But the action of creating a safety program begins with this step. You should start by taking a walk around the workplace and talking with employees about safety and health hazards. Look for particular hazards in the workplace and take note of how the employees are handling them.

Consider how effective your current safety measures are and how you can improve them. This includes identifying ergonomic hazards such as heavy lifting or physical hazards like sharp tools. Whatever it is, take note of every possible hazard and think of ways to make handling the hazard more safe.

5. Create Procedures for the Program

As a good rule of thumb, refer to the hierarchy of controls when considering procedures for handling hazards to include in the safety program. They go in order from most effective to least effective like this:

  • Elimination: Completely removing the hazard from the workplace or re-locating it to where it cannot negatively affect the employees.
  • Substitution: Replace the hazard with something more safe and reliable.
  • Engineering controls: Isolating people from the hazard by handling it with remote or robotic means.
  • Administrative controls: Changing the procedures that employees use to interact with the hazard.
  • Personal protective equipment: Use of PPE to protect the employees from hazards.

Using the input of the employees and the circumstances of the company, you can use these controls to guide the procedures of an effective safety program.

6. Gather Resources and Services

This step works in tandem with the previous one. It involves gathering the resources and services that may be required to control workplace hazards. This may involve obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE) such as cut-resistant gloves for handling sharp tools, or services such as video training on operating heavy machinery or how to properly lift heavy objects to prevent long-term back injury.

It may be necessary for you to create a budget for the safety program in order to acquire the needed resources to implement new procedures for safety and health.

7. Educate and Train Employees

Once you have implemented these procedures and resources into the safety program, you will need to prepare training for employees. They will need to be educated on the new safety program to protect themselves in the workplace.

An explanation of why the employees will need to utilize these procedures and resources would be a good part of the training. Take the time as well to highlight the consequences of failing to follow each step. You should conduct training as regularly as necessary. For example, every time a new employee is brought into the workplace would be a good time to conduct a training meeting.

8. Continually Train and Refine the Program

The last step of the process is the one that starts it all over again. Once you have integrated everything from the safety program into the workplace, you should make a constant effort to refine the program. Continue to communicate a commitment to safety, involve employees in the process, assess the workplace, and train employees.

The workplace is always changing and evolving with time. The safety program will need to change and evolve as well to adapt to potential hazards or holes within it. As long as you repeat the steps regularly you will regularly reduce the number of potential injuries and illnesses in the workplace.