Develop an action plan to help you build your safety and health program around the four points discussed above. It can serve as a "road map" to get your program from where it is now to where you want it to be. It tells you what has to be done, the logical order in which to do it, who is responsible, and perhaps most important, where you want to be when you finish. It is a specific description of problems and solutions, but it is not ironclad—it can and should be changed to correspond with changes in the workplace.
A good action plan has two parts:
An overall list of the major changes or improvements that are needed to make your safety and health program effective. Assign each item a priority and a target date for completion, and identify the person who will monitor or direct each action.
A specific plan on how to implement each major change or improvement. Here, you would write out what you wanted to accomplish, the steps required, who would be assigned to do what, and when you plan to be finished. This part of the action plan will help you keep track of program improvements so that details do not slip through the cracks. When several improvements are being made at once, it is easy to overlook something that may be an important prerequisite for your next action.
A worksheet that may help you design an overall action plan and describe specific action steps appears in Appendix A.
Once the plan has been established, put it into action, beginning with the item that has been assigned the highest priority. Check to make sure it is realistic and manageable, then address the steps you have written out for that item. This detailed description of the steps required will help you keep track of the development that is taking place. Keep in mind that you can, of course, work on more than one item at a time, and that the priorities may change as other needs are identified or as your company's resources change.
Open communication with your employees is crucial to the success of your efforts. Their cooperation depends on understanding what the safety and health program is all about, why it is important to them, and how it affects their work. The more you do to involve them in the changes you are making, the smoother your transition will be.
By putting your action plan into operation at your workplace, you will have taken a major step toward having an effective safety and health program. Remember, a safety and health program is a plan put into practice. You can keep your program on track by periodically checking its progress and by calling on a state consultant when you need assistance.
Any good management system requires a periodic review to make sure that the system is operating as intended. Every so often (quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) you should take a careful look at each critical component in your safety and health program to determine what is working well and what changes are needed. Your consultant can assist you in this area as well. When you identify improvements that should be made, you have the basis for new safety and health objectives for the coming year. Developing new action plans for those improvements will help you to continue to progress toward an effective safety and health program. That, in turn, will reduce your safety and health risks and increase efficiency and profit.
Remember, however, that it is also important to document your activities. The only way you can evaluate the success of your safety and health program is to have the documentation available to tell you what you have done, to assess how it has worked and to provide you with guidance on how you can make it work even better.
Technical assistance may be available to you as a small business owner or manager through your insurance carrier, your fellow business-people, suppliers of your durable equipment and raw materials, the local safety council and many local, state and federal agencies, including the state consultation programs and OSHA Area Offices. You may even find help in the yellow pages of your telephone directory which will give you the names of many companies that specialize in items and services relating to safety, health and fire prevention.
Establishing a quality Safety and Health Program at your place of business will take some time and involve some resources, but you should be pleasantly surprised with the results. Employees will be reassured because of your commitment to their safety and health on the job. You will probably save money through increased productivity and reduced workers' compensation insurance costs. You will find increased respect in your community. The rewards you receive will surely exceed the cost of your investment in safety and health protection.