The Impact of Workplace Safety on Product Quality
- Lost time due to work stoppage and investigations
- Training the replacement of the person injured
- Material/equipment/property damage
OSHA studies have also shown that a good safety management system that ensures workplace safety has proven beneficial, by:
- Improving product, process, and service quality
- Enhancing workplace morale
- Improving recruitment and retention standards
- Enhancing the image and reputation of the business among customers, suppliers, and the community
Safety and Quality go Hand-in-Hand
In some cases, the H&S function is considered a cost center, and safety management is practiced primarily to meet regulatory requirements.
Quality and productivity get a lot of focus because of their perceived value in improving revenues and customer satisfaction. Safety processes, on the other hand, tend to be reactive, coming into play in response to an incident rather than being proactive to prevent incidents.
This leads to unsafe operations, putting workers and the environment at risk. A lack of management commitment to worker safety, in turn, affects employee interest in contributing positively to the workplace. They can become unmindful and unmotivated, indulging in unsafe behaviors that can further jeopardize workplace safety. Unfortunately, it becomes a never-ending cycle and affects overall product/service quality.
Incidents lead to injuries and damage of equipment. Minor injuries lead to absenteeism, while major injuries and fatalities may require the worker to be replaced. Identifying the right person and training them to take on the role can take time. Till the new manpower acquires proficiency and experience, the quality of work may suffer, compelling the organization to take shortcuts to meet deadlines and production commitments. Damage to equipment and shopfloor can also disrupt work temporarily until repaired, with similar consequences.
The point is: safety and quality go hand-in-hand. Without the right mindset toward employee well-being, it is impossible to meet quality performance requirements.
A business that demonstrates its commitment to its employee health and safety through proactive safety processes creates an environment of trust and confidence. This leads to a higher engagement at the workplace, lesser attrition, and lower recruitment and training costs. But, most importantly, this leads to a higher knowledge base in the organization, process continuity, and better alignment to business goals that can help with consistent product/service quality.
Workplace Safety Management: Best Practices for Improving Product Quality
OSHA recommends that safety be driven by the organization as a whole, with both a top-down and bottom-up culture toward information sharing and transparency.
Therefore, the top management needs to lead the way and encourage employee engagement in safety processes. It must empower employees with skills, tools, and processes that help ensure workplace safety, improved quality, and enhanced productivity.
The best practices of an effective safety and health program management program, as recommended by OSHA, should include the following core elements:
Management Commitment: Demonstrate commitment through continuous improvement in safety and health. Communication with workers and setting program expectations and responsibilities are important to encourage employee participation. Establishing safety and health goals and objectives and providing adequate resources and support for the program can help make safety and health a core organizational value.
Worker Participation: Employees should be part of every aspect of safety management, from setting goals to identifying and reporting hazards, investigating incidents, and tracking progress. Assigning roles and making them aware of their responsibilities will help in ensuring effective implementation. They should be able to report safety and health concerns without fearing retaliation. Training them to operate safely will also help in improving the quality of the product with fewer disruptions and incidents.
Hazard Identification, Assessment, Prevention, and Control: It is essential to take a risk-based approach to safety, identify hazards, and communicate them to the workers. Employers and workers should cooperate to eliminate, prevent, or control hazards. The impact of the controls should be assessed through monitoring and tracking.
Program Evaluation and Improvement: The hazard control measures should be evaluated periodically for effectiveness, the program must be monitored to ensure performance, and any deficiencies should be identified and improved. Periodic audits and inspections, reports, and dashboards are some ways to identify gaps and trends and encourage continuous improvement.
By implementing these guidelines, businesses can ensure a transparent safety management system that automatically improves employee engagement and increases their productivity. A process done correctly will ensure their safety as well as the quality of the product.
Elements Critical for Safety Management
For a risk-based approach toward safety management initiatives, some of the critical elements include:
- Auditing the workplace periodically to identify risks, their criticality, and controls to minimize their impact
- Capture trends based on the past events to predict future potential hazards
- Identify the root causes of events to proactively prevent their future recurrence
- Train employees on all SOPs, safety best practices, certifications/licensing (as needed) to ensure they do not trigger events and know how to respond in case of an event
- Use a permit-to-work system to ensure only qualified workers are allowed access to highly hazardous work areas
- Reinforce positive behaviors
- Take care of supplier safety to ensure input raw materials meet necessary specifications and are safe to use
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By integrating the SMS and QMS, key decision-makers have a unified platform to manage risk across all these areas. To know more about CQ’s QHSE solution, request a demo here: https://www.compliancequest.com/online-demo/