Feature Article - February 2007
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Life Preservers

Considering safety from everyone’s perspective

By Allen F. Weitzel

What can you do about safety?

The primary path to safety that you can take is to continue those programs that work and tweak the ones that don't.

All safety ideas, suggestions or practices deserve attention. Improve overall safety by understanding the lessons learned from incidents at other facilities.

One excellent learning tool is to swap training programs with similar facilities. The local fire department is also an often-overlooked wealth of information on life safety, employee safety and fire safety. Build a rapport with the fire inspector and local police department. Both agencies will most likely provide specific training for key employees.

Improve procedures by asking the insurance and workers' compensation carriers to review written training materials, as well as getting input from the police and fire departments on programs that affect them. Most states have a chamber of commerce that can provide educational material on safety regulations.

When something does go wrong, share information with department heads about injuries and other information related to the incident. Let department heads know what happened and what the safety staff recommends as solutions to prevent further incidents.

No safety program can be successful if it is not used. Employee involvement is critical. Each new employee should receive orientation, on-the-job training and fire-extinguisher training. Safety information should be provided in all training, and those training experiences must be documented. Guides should be updated continually.

Businesses must have safety programs that not only look good on paper, but also are functional on a day-to-day basis. The safety program should have a safety committee, be it educational or enforcement-focused, and each department should have an action plan outlining their goals to reduce injuries and improve employee safety. Many training businesses sell generic safety programs that can act as a starting point to get the company programs established. A facility can be made as safe as possible through planning, training, frequent inspections and solid incident-response procedures.

Final watchwords

Judge the results of your safety programs as a whole, and look for improvement every year. Require that the staff maintain safety awareness, and that they never deviate from established procedures.

Safety starts from the top. Effective communication must exist between management and employees. Companies must appreciate the value of employee safety both in reducing lost work time and in improving guest safety. Get feedback on programs from employees, as well as guests and management. Hidden problems do not get solved. Share the data with the staff so they can see the scope of the problem and their need to help with the solution.

Whether safety programs are developed to maintain good public relations, improve employee productivity, reduce costs or because of legislation concerns, the lasting benefit will provide continuing rewards. Without safety as a benchmark, no recreational facility can survive.