What is best practice for workplace safety? Does it entail hard hats, respirators, Tyvek® suits and safety glasses? Intensive training programs? Warning signs and yellow stripes on the floor? An effective safety program can certainly include these components. But according to research cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), companies with the best record of workplace health and safety employ safety management programs based on three principles: management leadership, worker participation and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards.

According to OSHA, and the experience of ACMA member companies, these programs do the following:

  • Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
  • Improve compliance with laws and regulations
  • Reduce costs, including significant reductions in workers’ compensation premiums
  • Engage workers
  • Enhance social responsibility goals
  • Increase productivity
  • Enhance overall business operations

In addition, industry-wide adoption of workplace safety management programs may allow OSHA and state agencies to focus enforcement and rulemaking activities elsewhere.

ACMA’s recently introduced voluntary ACMA Workplace Safety Management Program is designed to help composites manufacturing facilities achieve workplace safety best practice following OSHA’s recommended approach. Facilities participating in the program agree to make continuous progress by adopting certain practices such as development and implementation of a written safety program, responding to and preventing future incidents, and reviewing available information on the health hazards and physical risks present in an operation.

Written Safety Programs

To participate in the ACMA program, composites manufacturing facilities agree to develop written safety programs that:

  • Are developed and implemented by a team that includes employees at all levels of the organization.
  • Address all the health risks and physical hazards known to be present.
  • Reflect the best reasonably-available information about hazards and risks, including from sources outside the organization.
  • Include the review and response to workplace safety incidents, including near misses.
  • Use regular safety inspections by a team of employees to review compliance with procedures and identify needed improvements.
  • Include a management-of-change program that evaluates the health and safety impacts of any significant change in materials or processes.
  • Provide comprehensive training of all employees including refresher training.
  • Conduct an annual review of the effectiveness of the written safety program and opportunities for improvement.

Many composites manufacturers already have programs employing many of these elements. To participate in the ACMA program, a facility only has to agree to make year-to-year improvement in its safety effort, starting with where it is now.