The USW Triangle of Prevention Program (TOP) provides workers the means to take an active role in safety - uncovering existing hazards in the workplace, identifying root causes of incidents and near-misses and determining effective solutions to those problems. While TOP does not claim to be a complete, comprehensive health and safety program, it can be a very important part of an existing or developing program.
TOP has three elements.
Union Leadership - our foundation.
This program was built by workers, for workers. It only makes sense that workers coordinate the process. The local union at each TOP workplace selects a USW TOP Representative to direct the program. This is a full-time, company paid position that reports to the local union. The TOP Rep is supported by a team of local union reps.
All on-site training for the program is performed by TOP Worker-Trainers. These are workers selected by the local union who receive training from the International Union. These positions are paid by the company but are not full-time.
The TOP Rep coordinates and participates in on-site TOP training, organizes incident and near-miss investigation teams, provides quality control for the investigation process and communicates results of investigations and the status of recommendations to the plant population. He or she especially seeks to share lessons learned from site investigations and from investigations shared by other TOP sites and USW workplaces.
Systems of Safety and Incident/Near-Miss Investigation Training
TOP's focus is on finding flaws in workplace Systems of Safety. This emphasis is not about placing blame, but on finding the root causes of incidents and near-misses. The root cause is then eliminated, preventing future incidents and near-misses that have the potential to occur if not dealt with.
It is vital that everyone in the workplace understand Systems of Safety and the basic workings of TOP. To achieve this, everyone at the workplace receives an initial 8 hours of TOP awareness training. This is followed by an annual refresher module.
Investigations are assigned by the TOP Rep and are performed jointly. At least half of these investigators are hourly workers selected by the union, and the remainder are salaried workers selected by management.
Recommendations made by the investigators are assigned "due by" dates and responsible parties. All recommendations (action items) are tracked to completion.
Measurement and Tracking of Incidents
It is difficult to effectively plan for health and safety if you do not know your baseline. The most common measurement used in U.S. industry today is the OSHA Incident Rate. Unfortunately, with its narrow focus on employee injury and illness and its risk of being manipulated, it falls far short of providing the information needed.
TOP takes a much broader look at safety using multiple measurements to paint a better, more complete picture of the status of health and safety.
TOP is not for every workplace, but if you are interested in TOP, contact Steve Cable for further information.