The TOP program utilizes the knowledge of the workforce to understand and eliminate workplace hazards. TOP is designed to incorporate all workers within a facility, including not only our members but Staff and Management as well. Rather than following the model of a management-mandated safety program, TOP is intended to be a program of the entire workforce.
There are multiple levels of training for TOP. The most basic level is given to all employees of a facility to explain how the program works and to ensure that all workers understand their part in workplace safety. Additional training is afforded those individuals that express an interest in becoming "Investigators". As ominous as that may sound, investigations are done by employees within the facility, and in all but the most minor incidents, by a team of both Hourly and Staff investigators. In this way, we truly work together to identify root causes and corrective measures leveraging the unique knowledge of both hourly and staff in a cooperative fashion.
For those that show a distinct understanding of TOP and a motivation to contribute more, we offer "Train the Trainer" classes. These classes allow employees at each location (sorry, only USW-represented employees are allowed to be trainers) to reach a level that allows them to provide both initial, refresher, and investigator training to their fellow co-workers. We've found that training by peers is well received as there is an additional comfort level when working with coworkers.
As stated above, the core of the TOP program is identification of the mechanism(s) that allow health/safety risks, identify immediate, short-term corrective action, and more importantly, identify long-term corrective actions to prevent reoccurrences of safety incidents.
When making recommendations for corrective actions, TOP utilizes a weighted approach. Engineering and design are given the most weight for obvious reasons - Engineer the hazard away and there is no risk, all the way down to PPE-type actions - generally the least effective as it relies on the same response by every individual and allows the risk to remain.
TOP, being union led, encourages and requires the involvement of the membership, both in identifying and correcting hazards. As such, it is our belief that our members benefit by having direct involvement at each step of the investigation, as well as the ability to recommend corrective actions they feel are necessary. With management support, TOP has proven very effective.