when workplaces attack
Safety might not be the sexiest agenda item, but its fundamental importance — especially for manufacturing and logistics companies — is almost impossible to exaggerate.
But don't just take our word for it.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 13,000 American workers are injured on the job every single day. That's one injury every seven seconds — about the same amount of time as it took you to read the previous sentence. It's only in that context that the astonishing $1 billion U.S. businesses shell out each week to cover workplace injuries begins to make sense.
For employers with industrial worksites and workforces, safety-related risks and costs are especially close at hand. Stats back this up:
Given all that, the costs can quickly add up — and they're not always direct.
And that's just the beginning. With so much on the line, you can't afford to be caught off guard when it comes to safety — and with this comprehensive guide, you won't be. It's your one-stop shop for safety best practices, chock full of actionable insights and real-world examples.
Ready to take your organization to best-in-class safety standards, at the same time increasing efficiency, mitigating risks and growing your bottom line? It's all here. Dig in.
You might not have a robust, "best-in-class" safety strategy in place at your organization today — and if not, that's okay. But now is the time to do something about it, as the risks outlined in the introduction of this ebook should have made clear.
So your first step is to gain an in-depth understanding of your safety culture: Where you stand today will determine the proper course of action to help get your organization to a place of safety excellence tomorrow.
But where to start? With the following five-step safety-culture maturity model from the experts at Randstad, you're about to find out.
Safety-culture maturity models were developed for two reasons. Namely, they help organizations:
From a high level, companies can generally be bucketed into one of the five stages listed below, each of which describes a point in time on the path to safety excellence. As you read each of them, begin thinking through where your organization falls today — but don't worry, we'll also examine each stage in far greater detail to help you figure it out.
Let's look at each of these more closely. In this chapter, we’ll also outline next steps for your organization. That way, no matter where you are in your safety journey today, you'll be ready to spring into action by the end of the chapter.
Now that you've gotten a read on your own safety maturity and have taken note of some appropriate next steps, it's time to take action. In chapter three, we'll look at safety best practices in a variety of applications across the organization.
Risk and safety go arm in arm, as tightly wound as two strands of a double helix — or perhaps more appropriately, concertina wire and a fence. Yet for many leaders, getting an accurate read on organizational risk and making improvements from there remains both a priority and a challenge.
If that sounds like you, the good news is that you've come to the right place. Here's everything you need to know to diagnose and improve your organization's approach to risk assessment.
Safety is a pretty broad concept, and without defining what exactly you want to achieve, it'll be hard to know what success looks like. And that means framing "safety" in terms of desired outcomes.
Of course, you'll need to define safety in terms that are specifically relevant to your organization, but these examples should help you think about the safety-related metrics you'll want to prioritize.
For many companies today, the traditional approach to safety and risk is likely focused on, say, post-incident metrics. That's okay — at least for now. But backward-looking reporting isn't setting the bar high enough when it comes to organizational safety and risk today. Celebrating a certain number of days without a safety incident means very little if your organization can't point to specific behaviors and actions that drive the desired safety outcomes.
That means taking a proactive approach to safety — one that enables those most likely to encounter safety risks to more effectively anticipate and manage them. Enabling your front-line workforce to better manage safety is culturally empowering and critically necessary to avoid accidents before they even happen.
The key is to create a feedback loop among the behaviors, actions and work practices that lead to desired outcomes — because, in reality, we all drift from known, safe work practices from time to time. So timely feedback from coworkers, supervisors and leaders is crucial in order to nudge us back to safe practices. Unfortunately, at many organizations today, this is still something to strive for.
The good news is that reviewing these feedback loops — and the associated data — often proves to be illuminating. This data contains a treasure trove of insights about possible areas for improvement across all business areas. From there, creating an intervention strategy capable of delivering those desired outcomes becomes much more feasible.
At the center of any safety-improvement initiative — and the primary tool you'll use for monitoring and assessing risk — is your safety-management system (SMS). Think of it as your overarching, comprehensive framework for getting ahead of organizational risk and safety.
To be effective, your SMS should account for the following five "P's" from the National Safety Council.
Who's going to be on the front line of safety improvements at your organization — and who's going to ensure that protocols are adhered to going forward? You'll probably need to carry out a deep-dive job-hazard analysis for all functions and areas of your operations. Just make sure you have widespread buy-in and support first, because no safety initiative can get off the ground without dedicated people behind it.
You need to plan for risks, over both the short and long term. Getting stakeholders on board and aligned will be part and parcel of this proactive planning process. (Phew, that's a lot of P's.)
Best-in-class safety organizations have dedicated environmental health and safety (EHS) programs in place to ensure they're not only identifying and controlling hazards but effectively monitoring and measuring their impact. Check out these OSHA guidelines for recommended program practices.
Don't get complacent about safety and risks. Beginning your risk assessment is just the first step in a much longer journey — and you need to be constantly moving the needle. Carry out ongoing audits and reviews to ensure continual improvement.
As we've already touched upon, measuring your performance is critical for developing insights and identifying additional improvements going forward. Think about the KPIs that matter for your organization, and institute regular reporting with senior leaders to ensure you're making headway. At times, you may find the need to correct your course, too — and that's perfectly fine. Agility and safety go hand in hand.
For more tips and best practices on safety-management systems, head on over to the International Organization for Standardization's website to learn more about ISO 45001 — the highest safety standard to meet for organizations today.
If you're not sure where to start with assessing risk, don't beat yourself up about it. You're certainly not alone — the majority of organizations are in that same position today. But you do need to take next steps now, because the cost of inaction is high and you can't afford any delay.
Fortunately, a fresh assessment of the risks affecting your organization, together with a commitment to building and implementing a strong framework (like the ISO 45001 standard), should place you on the same path as many best-in-class organizations.
Training your employees to develop competency in safety knowledge and skills is essential for safety culture advancement — and an integral, yet often overlooked, part of that is onboarding.
Why is onboarding so important to safety outcomes? What can you do to make improvements? And what does it take to achieve best-in-class status? In this chapter, we'll answer these questions and more.
Let's start with the current state of onboarding at manufacturing and logistics companies today, drawing on insights from Randstad's recent survey of more than 1,000 managers and employees.
what are the most common onboarding practices at manufacturing and logistics companies today?
At first blush, this picture of current onboarding practices looks promising. For example, the data suggests that manufacturing and logistics companies are not only investing in new onboarding tools, but continually upgrading and improving their offerings, too.
Equally encouraging are the 69 percent of managers who say their companies either "always" or "very often" provide training or development opportunities for employees to learn new skills specific to their roles. That's good news, given that role-specific training is an OSHA-recommended safety practice and a key part of any effective safety program. And in a seemingly related finding, managers in manufacturing and logistics are more likely than their counterparts in all other industries to describe employees as "continuously" taking advantage of opportunities to gain new skills at work. That's a very positive sign of alignment between what manufacturing and logistics companies are offering and what their employees want.
Less encouraging, on the other hand, is that a whopping 32 percent of the talent surveyed revealed that they had received no onboarding at all. Given that only about half of our clients, according to our research, are using that most basic of onboarding tools — a new-hire checklist — it's clear that there's plenty of room for improvement. Formalizing new-hire onboarding with a checklist not only helps managers and HR streamline and standardize the process, but also sets the stage for better relationships between coworkers.
These checklists also serve as key risk-management tools, enabling employers to systematically set and manage expectations on all things safety, like machine-specific training. Without them, how can you ensure that you're delivering a standardized onboarding experience and creating a common base of knowledge around safety and operations for all new hires?
The simple answer is: You can't.
Moreover, new-hire checklists have been shown to help get new hires up to speed as much as 25 percent faster, so the business case for implementing them at your worksite should be fairly cut and dry. And as an added bonus, by implementing checklists, you'll also gain the ability to review processes far more objectively when things go wrong.
Finally, the fact that self-directed research is a component of onboarding at more than a quarter of manufacturing and logistics companies right now should raise some eyebrows (and not least because it sounds like a euphemism for "You're on your own now, buddy!"). Most fundamentally, the problem is that, whatever form this research takes, it can't be effectively or safely brought to bear on day-to-day floor operations unless everyone else on the team is in the loop. In light of the close connection between onboarding and on-the-job safety — which is more pronounced in manufacturing and logistics than in most other industries — this is a worrying finding, indeed.
When approached holistically, onboarding is about more than just what happens when new hires show up at your plant or warehouse. That's when the process formally kicks into gear, of course, but ultimately, the scope and goals of your onboarding process should be much broader, with downstream impacts across the full employee lifecycle.
Now that you understand the role of onboarding in workplace safety, let's examine some of the organizational infrastructure — committees, policies, practices and more — that define best-in-class safety organizations today.
Up next after the break: safety inspections.
In today's industrial environments, continual improvement is the name of the game. If you aren't getting better every day, you're likely at risk of stagnating — or even falling behind. For these reasons and more, regular worksite safety inspections are a recognized best practice among leading manufacturing and logistics companies today.
Plus, the benefits can be huge.
How huge? One study found that worksite safety inspections led to as much as a 20 percent reduction in days away from work, job restrictions and job transfers (collectively known in the safety arena as "DART"). No less critically, that same study concluded that the positive impact of inspections was most pronounced among manufacturing companies.
Given those positive findings, only one question remains: What makes for successful, effective worksite safety inspections? Let's break that down in greater detail.
Worksite safety inspections are essential for companies looking to transition from a reactive to a proactive safety approach. So what makes for an effective worksite safety inspection? It all starts with the following six-point approach.
You'll need to anticipate the full gamut of injuries and illnesses your employees might succumb to as a result of being at your worksite. And if that strikes you as challenging, it should also underscore the fundamental importance of the inspections themselves. Plus, once you've successfully pinpointed hazards, it's a whole lot easier to start controlling for them — which will pay dividends on your bottom line.
Got a handle on what makes for a successful safety inspection? Great! In chapter six, we'll turn to the vital role that safety committees have to play in planning, managing and executing worksite safety inspections — as well as ensuring that your organization remains on the path of continual improvement.
In the context of fast-paced industrial work environments, it can be easy to forget that organizational culture — and change — trickles down from the top. Yet there's just no getting around the fact that what matters to leaders is going to be reflected, day in and day out, in the behavior, attitudes and expectations of everyone else throughout the organization.
That's where safety committees come into play. It's a chance to bring leadership together with team members from diverse areas of your organization not only to define goals, but to ensure you continue to make progress toward them.
Some sort of organization-wide communication should follow on the heels of every safety committee meeting. What are you working on? What are the short- and long-term goals? Sharing the committee's work not only increases visibility, but helps secure buy-in from team members across the company.
Finally, keep in mind that it's still possible to have fun — in fact, that three-letter word can be what differentiates organizations that succeed with safety from those that don't. Strive to maintain a positive tone throughout the course of your safety committee meetings, keeping in mind, too, that even short-term wins deserve to be commemorated and shared.
A top-notch safety culture is one where front-line workers both understand the behaviors and conditions that increase safety risk exposures and feel empowered to proactively reduce them. As an organizational leader, it should be your goal to communicate that message, of course, but that's not all. In fact, there are simple best practices you can institute — together with easy-to-access channels you can create — that will go a long way toward bringing that vision to life.
Let's look at the key role job safety observations play at leading companies today.
Job safety observations are similar to worksite safety inspections. The critical difference, though, is that now your focus is on people, as opposed to the working environment itself. These observations should take place both formally and informally on an ongoing basis in order to develop a nuanced understanding of the relationship between employees and their tasks, tools and surrounding environment. From there, it's far easier to make improvements.
Leading organizations today typically adhere to the following five guidelines when conducting job safety observations:
Follow up with supervisors to express any concerns about what you have observed. Clearly communicate your planned next steps for improvement, as well.
As is generally the case with the strongest safety programs, checklists — in this case, safety-observation checklists — come in handy. They're a great, easy-to-implement option to help you gather insights from people across your organization, particularly those on the front lines. And to help ensure these observations, in turn, are translated to actionable insights, you should consider creating an automated intake form that observers can fill out at any time, anywhere and on any device.
Finally, however you decide to put job safety observations into play at your company, bear in mind that all employees, full-time staff and contractors alike, must be aligned on a shared vision. Otherwise — for example, if contractors don't feel they're equally responsible for safety improvements at your organization — you'll quickly discover that the overall efficacy of your job safety observation program is in serious jeopardy.
First things first: What, exactly, is a "hazard"? At first glance, OSHA's definition couldn't be more straightforward: A hazard is simply "the potential for harm." But noodle on that for a moment, and the complexity quickly piles on. A hazard, in OSHA's definition, isn't an object or environment alone — it's the intersection of the two.
Equal parts object and environment, hazards abound in every manufacturing and logistics environment — known knowns, known unknowns, unknown knowns and unknown unknowns alike. So to avoid the high cost of workplace injuries, you'll need to get proactive about recognizing and mitigating them. And that starts with our eight-step approach.
Gathering and centralizing all of your information is the first step to getting a sense of existing hazards and exposures. Just be sure to treat this as an evolving body of knowledge, not something set in stone.
It's imperative that your organization conduct regular inspections of all operations, equipment, work areas and facilities. Have workers participate on the inspection team, and talk to them about the hazards they see or report.
Always document your inspection efforts, ideally with photos or videos. That way, others can review later on and verify that hazards have been addressed and corrected. Plus, this kind of documentation often comes in handy for training purposes later on.
Health hazards come in many forms — chemical, physical, biological, ergonomic and more — so identifying them ahead of time isn't always easy. Indeed, in some cases it requires specialized training. For that reason, be sure to check out any relevant regulatory guidelines. And if you need outside support, you can always take advantage of strategic partners like Randstad or get help from OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program.
When incidents do occur, your investigations must be thorough — and they should begin immediately after the incident takes place.
Ideally, your investigation team will include management as well as specially trained workers.
Just because something didn't happen this time around, there's no guarantee that it won't in the future. If anything, quite the opposite is true. That's why close calls and near misses should be considered highly valuable learning opportunities.
Fires, explosions, chemical or hazardous material spills, equipment shutdowns — in manufacturing and logistics environments, there are any number of scenarios that might be accurately called "unplanned." But that doesn't mean they actually are. So take the time to think through every "what if." At the end of the day, it's your job to have specific, clearly communicated plans in place for every scenario.
Not all hazards are alike, but some — say, the risk of electrical fire in two machines with similar wiring — share a lot in common. (See Appendix 2 of OSHA's guide to job hazard analysis for more information.) The point is that thinking categorically in this way will help you look for and control hazards. After all, hazards that appear obvious in one area of your operation may be far less so in another.
At the end of the day, you should also bear in mind that not everything can be patched and fixed overnight, so you'll need to prioritize which safety improvements to put in place first.
For those hazards you can't effectively resolve right away, interim control measures are the tonic — just don't let them become an excuse not to adopt more permanent solutions later on. When done right, short-term stopgaps are an effective way to protect workers and keep the business running smoothly. Just be sure to carefully keep track of these controls, because you can't afford to let workplace hazards slip through the cracks.
Need additional support to reinforce the learnings from this chapter? No sweat — we've got you covered every step of the way. (We didn't call this "your complete guide to safety" for nothing.) For starters, there's OSHA's Hazard Identification Training Tool. This interactive, game-based training tool is a great educational resource. It'll help teach all of your team members the core concepts of hazard identification, and will empower them to more effectively and proactively identify hazards in your workplace, too.
The National Safety Council also offers some valuable resources and training materials here.
Now that you've mastered the essential concepts and goals of hazard recognition, let's move on to safety and risk in joint-employer environments. If that sounds like a somewhat more specialized topic, it's also one that's more relevant today than ever before. Why? Jump ahead to chapter nine to find out.
Risk management is getting increasingly complex today, as recent trends — most notably, the proliferation of the gig economy and a greater reliance on contract workers — reshape the world of work before our very eyes.
With so much in flux, leading companies are increasingly turning to staffing partners to solve their most critical talent pain points. In part, that's because staffing partners can help companies better manage a wide range of risks — everything from business interruptions to accidents, compliance and more — that impact their bottom lines.
Of course, that impacts risk as well.
So how should manufacturing and logistics companies evaluate potential partners from the standpoint of risk and safety? Moreover, once a partner has been selected, what's the best approach in order to ensure successful implementation on the ground?
In this chapter, we'll be answering these questions and more — so you can overcome a bevy of risks that might otherwise derail your business in joint-employer environments.
Working with the right staffing partner brings with it a host of benefits for manufacturing and logistics companies. But to see those benefits, you'll need to take an end-to-end view of safety and risk — and that begins with your approach to evaluating partners.
Here are some key questions — organized around core elements of Prevention Through Design (PTD) and risk control — that are crucial to consider when evaluating any potential staffing provider.
These questions should help you not only evaluate vendors more rigorously, but also begin to think through what implementation looks like on the ground. In the next section, we'll break down a framework to help you do so. By taking a structured approach, you'll be far better equipped to manage actions, timelines and expectations down the line.
The occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system ISO-45001 is an international standard and framework to help companies, regardless of industry, proactively manage risk in order to prevent work-related injuries and illness for employees. One central piece of the ISO framework is the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle, which has proven especially valuable in the context of joint-employer environments.
To help you out, let's look at how some best-in-class manufacturing and logistics companies have put the PDCA cycle into action today in order to more effectively manage staffing partners and drive business outcomes.
By taking this structured approach, you and your staffing partner can ensure alignment and continually make progress toward your goals. With proper goal setting, clearly defined expectations and an established communication cadence, the journey to best-in-class should be within reach. And as you work in that direction, the PDCA process should serve as a simple yet powerful tool to keep you and your partner on track.
Staffing partners bring considerable value and benefits to manufacturing and logistics companies today — but realizing all of those benefits isn't always easy. And when primary and host employers aren't aligned on the management of current and future risks, the costs and drawbacks can quickly add up.
For these reasons and more, building a strong joint-employer environment starts early. You just need to ask the right questions when evaluating potential staffing partners, then adopt a structured approach to implementation.
Now that you're armed with these insights, you should be able to not only approach staffing partners with confidence, but ultimately uncover opportunities to drive your business forward — without increasing your risk exposure.
A significant majority of manufacturing and logistics companies foresee growth in the year ahead, according to a recent Randstad survey — but to get there, they'll need to treat safety as a crucial part of their business's journey, too. And now, with the deep insights and actionable intelligence of this comprehensive safety ebook in tow, you're ready to do exactly that.
But you should also know that you don't have to go it alone. Strategic partners, like the manufacturing and logistics experts at Randstad, are here to help.
We combine the human touch with the latest in tech, enabling us — and you — to connect with talent and make the right match faster. And with our unrivaled nationwide reach, we'll make vetting and onboarding that much more efficient. Plus, if your needs change, we're always ready to flex and scale.
Connect with the safety experts at Randstad's manufacturing and logistics practice today. We'll show you how we can deliver far-reaching operational improvements while solving for nearly any talent-related pain point. That way, you'll be better equipped to take on the challenges of today and thrive, no matter what tomorrow brings.