OFF-THE-JOB SAFETY PROGRAMS
Believe it or not, employees are often more likely to get injured off the job than on the job. These injuries are costly to the employee, their family, and their employer. When employees are at work, they are in a structured environment where safety is paramount. When employees are at home, the environment is less structured with no direct supervision.
Many organizations are beginning to recognize the importance of off-the-job safety. A culture of safety is one where the company places value on the individual and their well-being in all aspects of life, not just while they are at work. The focus of off-the-job safety programs is to encourage employees to make safe decisions away from work. They are similar to company-sponsored wellness programs intended to maintain the employee’s physical and mental health. These programs lead to an employee who is safer, more productive, and able to successfully provide for their family.
Off-the-job safety information can be provided in many ways. Consider asking questions related to off-the-job safety during routine safety training or safety meetings. For example, ask how many people have a fire extinguisher at their place of residence or use fall protection when using a tree stand for deer hunting. Many employer-provided training courses, such as portable power tools, ladders, fall protection, personal protective equipment, lifting, defensive driving, energy isolation, hazardous atmospheres, bloodborne pathogens, fire extinguishers, and hazardous chemicals also apply to life away from work.
Off-the-job safety information can also be provided with employee paychecks, in company newsletters, booklets, workplace posters, and the company website. Many local, state, and national campaigns can also be promoted throughout the year. Examples include National Fire Prevention Week, Grain Bin Safety Week, Tornado Safety Week, National Farm Safety Week, and Safe Boating Week, to name a few.
Family involvement can also help employees make the connection with living safely. Consider sponsoring home or work safety poster contests where children draw pictures of safety messages. In addition, consider other opportunities to promote off-the-job safety by providing families with fire extinguishers, smoke detectors or an assortment of personal protective equipment that can be used at home (work gloves, safety glasses, particulate respirator, etc.).
Creating an effective safety culture involves getting employees to think of safety throughout all aspects of their life. The choices they make away from work can affect their personal life, work life and the ability to provide for their family. Put simply, promoting safety away from work shows that your organization places value on the employee and their family in all aspects of life.
Joe Mlynek is a partner and subject matter expert at Safety Made Simple, Inc. He has over 20 years of experience in safety at the corporate level and as a consultant. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Occupational Safety and Health Technician (OHST). Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org