When it comes to the health and safety of our employees, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. But how much safety is too much? Is it possible that too many safety programs and rules can become counterproductive and cause an environment where workplace accidents are more likely to occur?
Throughout my career, I’ve seen myriad examples where there was so much paperwork and bureaucracy wrapped around the preparation of a particular job that employees often didn’t know where to begin. They were too worried about getting the paperwork right to actually focus on the risks of the job.
Safety managers, directors and frontline supervisors must understand that more is not always better. There’s nothing wrong with detailed policies, procedures, work permits, energy isolation certificates, JSAs, etc. but when these documents start to overlap each other, their effectiveness becomes diluted.
Finding the appropriate balance can be tricky. Every job or activity performed at the jobsite deserves a reasonable amount of risk assessment and planning. Each company’s safety management system should provide easy to understand guidance on how to determine the appropriate level of risk assessment and preparation for different types of jobs. Some jobs will require a high degree of formalized risk assessment (JSAs, procedures, etc.) while others may require nothing more than a simple verbal review.
Classifying the jobs that fall in-between the extremes is one of the biggest areas of safety improvement that organizations can focus on. Share your thoughts on this topic in the comment boxes below.