Think about it, you take a job as the first full time career dedicated safety professional for a company that has been around since the mid-1800's. Before accepting the job offer with your new employer you find out that they have high costs associated with workers' compensation but when you ask about injury trends in your interview - - all you are told is that they have had several OSHA inspections and they need you to help them do something about it.

Once you start at your new job, you find that there are plenty of historical OSHA logs for each year but when you inquire about the original incident reports - there is little to be found beyond the State Employer's First Report of Injury.

So where do you begin? This paper focuses on one company's effort to turn around this exact situation. Five years later, after instituting many program initiatives, the incident reporting and incident investigation process is viewed as a prime success factor that has enabled the company to achieve award level performance.

Safety Means Good Business

To begin the turnaround process, an educational program was developed for all managers and supervisors. This came in the form of a training program called Safety Leadership Training which was also called the SLT course. Besides covering areas such as safety inspections, hazard identification and safety control measures - the course included a portion on safety management expectations.

Overall, safety management covers all the bases ranging from product quality, productivity, employee health, insurance issues, job security and of course, compliance with OSHA and EPA regulations. To begin dialog on safety management, some fundamental concepts were reviewed using the traditional safety triangle. This served as the first step in the education process. As part of this effort, injury reporting was presented as a minimum expectation for all.

Common terms were reviewed such as "accident", "incident" and "injury". New expectations were introduced regarding incident reporting. New forms were presented to the organization along with an implementation plan for rolling out the new forms to each location in the company. As part of the roll out plan, training was offered to all company executives, managers, line supervisors and safety representatives.

Supervisor Role in Incident Reporting

The supervisor role is key in any business. When it comes to safety, both line managers and supervisors play a vital role in injury prevention. The supervisor is usually the first person that interfaces with an injured employee. Understanding this, one of the most important things to keep in mind is whether or not your supervisors have been set up for success to achieve a safe work environment. This is evident when there is a sound reporting process in place and supervisors are given instructions on how the process works.

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