Over the past decade, workplace injuries have been one of the leading causes of absenteeism in the workforce. What is most regrettable about workplace injuries is that many of them could have been prevented by putting safety protocols in place and educating workers.
Granted, putting an Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) plan in place requires a certain amount of work, but it is more than worth it when you take into account the health of your co-workers, and of your business. VKS users can even take advantage of their digital work instruction savvy by using the software’s versatility to help them set the EHS process in motion.
If you're the kind of person who screams "that is NOT a safe place to store flammable liquids" when watching Michael Bay movies, then this safety guide is most certainly for you.
Setting the Scene
The first step is assessing your EHS risks and needs. Take the time to make an inventory of the safety equipment you have on-site, access its condition and then determine what you need. Some safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and eye rinse stations have elements that can expire and therefore require somewhat regular inspections.
Make an inventory of chemicals you are using and make sure that you have the equipment needed for the first aid linked to these products.
Once you have your list, it's time to make procedures and inspection routes. At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, "Wow, that sounds like a lot of paperwork." Luckily, you can make this entire process paperless and 100% traceable with electronic work instructions.
Here are just some of the top VKS features that can help you document your EHS processes and inspection routes easily:
- Take digital on the move: Forget the clipboard and grab a tablet. By using guidebooks and digital forms, you forgo the need for endless paper lists.
- Use guidebooks to guide you through your inspections and make sure nothing is left out. Don’t be afraid to add plenty of checklists.
- Does your inspection route vary from month to month? Use the Rule Engine and create rules that allow you to use the same guidebook but have it reflect the different needs you encounter during different months.
- Create separate guidebooks for each piece of safety equipment and embed them within your inspection guidebook. This will make things easy for the inspector as well as auditors. Inspectors simply need to follow the route in the guidebook, and auditors can look up the guidebooks that are specific to an equipment piece to find out its history.
Adding EHS to the Company Culture
The first part of making health and safety a viable part of your corporate culture is to get everyone involved. Everyone in the workplace is affected by health and safety, whether it be the person who deals with corrosive chemicals on a daily basis, or the person who repeats the same motion all day and is a prime candidate for tendinitis.
The best way to get started is to present your EHS expectations to your team and make sure everyone is aware of their surroundings.
Consider using VKS guidebooks to make trainings and quizzes for the following topics:
- Safety & emergency equipment: Map out where your safety and emergency equipment is and how and when it should be used.
- First Aid kits: Let your staff know who the first-aid certified employees are and where they can find the first-aid kits. You can even use the VKS BOM feature to list all the items that should be found in the kits and compliment it with a form asking if any items are missing.
- Symbol recognition: Does your company deal with hazardous materials? Take this opportunity to teach your team about the material and the different symbols used to identify them. You can even add first-aid and clean-up tips.
Your workforce is your most valuable asset. When operators go on permanent or temporary leave, not only does this affect morale, it also requires you to find and train someone else to take over their position.
So can you prevent this?
The first step to reducing injuries is education. Team up your EHS experts with your VKS authors to integrate health and safety into your company’s every-day life.
Reducing the Risks
After a general safety training, the best way to keep your employees safe is to make sure that all employees are qualified for their tasks. When it comes to production, VKS has some safety solutions that will help you ensure that everyone on the shop floor is as qualified and prepared as possible:
- Use certification groups to limit guidebook access to operators with valid certifications. If a user is not certified, you do not have to worry about them accessing the guidebook and putting themselves in jeopardy.
- Activate the guidebook “training” requirement when important changes are made to guidebooks. This will ensure that a supervisor attests that an operator has the proper training required to perform the tasks in the guidebook.
- Use pictograms as a visual reminder if protective gear is necessary, or to indicate if any hazardous material is being used.
Once employees are aware of the safety standards you expect as a company and are prepared for their tasks, it is time to drill deeper and tackle the more subtle but equally important issues. Repetitive movement and over extension injuries are the main elements to blame for most workplace injuries. In addition to those, there are a variety of other discomforts and accidents that can occur on a daily basis that you might not even be aware of.
Here are some ideas on how you can use VKS to promote the general well-being of your workforce:
- Be sure your guidebook setup steps include information on how to adjust the machine ergonomically.
- Break up work with some stretching time. Find strategic places in a guidebook, at the end of a cycle for example, and display a video with some stretches tailored to the movements required for this particular operation.
- Add surveys asking your operators how they are feeling or if they are experiencing any discomfort in relation to their work tasks.
- Add alerts to remind operators of important safety procedures that need to be followed.
Preparing for EHS Audits
If your organization decides to apply for any variety of health and safety certification, you need to be prepared for the audit. We don’t have to pretend here, we are amongst friends, no one enjoys audits. Regardless of our feelings towards them, over the past decade there has been a sharp rise in the demands for accountability increase in the need for company accountability in regards to the health and safety of their work force as well as their work environment.
Luckily, if you have used VKS for the previous steps, all your inspections should be documented and your safety data should be easily accessible through the VKS Production Reports page. Here is an example of the audit-worthy information that can be stored in those reports:
- Form data: All the information gathered in the guidebooks, check lists answers, inspector names, dates, and more are recorded and preserved within the reports.
- Photos. Safety inspectors can take photos during their route that will be accessed from the reports.
- Signatures. Supervisor sign-offs can be included in the guidebooks, letting the person viewing the report know who signed off on it.
- Easy search options. Use the text search options to pinpoint the information you want to find. It can be as easy as scanning a fire extinguisher into the reports page and finding all reports pertaining to it!
Ready, Set, Go!
Now you are ready to get started on your EHS journey. No matter where you decide to start, remember that you can book a demo to find out how you can use VKS to implement EHS.