Create A Safer Workplace This Year By Trying Something New

Create A Safer Workplace This Year By Trying Something New

Jill James

Jill James

Chief Safety Officer

Jill James brings an unrivaled perspective on risk, regulation and liability. With 14 years of experience as a Senior OSHA Safety Investigator with the State of Minnesota, and nearly a decade in the private sector as a safety program manager, Jill is a passionate advocate for training ROI.

“If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.”

Vivid’s resident safety pro, Jill James, fills us in on how to change up our routine to get better results and safer workplaces in 2015.

Why Is This Not Working?

What is it you are getting these days?  Are you pleased with the safety culture at your company, or are you spinning and repeating what has always been done, and “getting”, as the famous quote suggests, “what you always got?” 

A new year is at our door; humanity is resolving not to get what we always got in many facets of life with resolutions and gadgets to “get-there” aplenty.

If having a healthy workplace safety culture means everyone is interested in going home the same way they arrived and having zero tolerance for side-stepping safety procedures, then how do we get there? 

How do we, as safety professionals or people who have been dubbed “the safety guy” or “the safety lady” or even “that-person-who-takes-everything-to-extremes” make progress?  How do we shift the culture of our organization to care about safety as much as we do? 

We must get executives, managers, and supervisors to live and breathe safety like we do.  Then, we watch and reap the rewards as a healthy workplace safety culture ripples through our organization.

Simple.  Easy-peasy.  People write about it in journals and talk about it at conferences all the time.  Now go do it.

Then, there’s reality.  It’s not easy.  In fact it seems insurmountable at times.  Sure, when someone loses an appendage or is killed on the job, attention for safety and procedures and all that “safety stuff” can be easy to obtain- for a while. 

Let’s say it’s just an ordinary Monday and no one has died or otherwise been injured on the job.  What tool can you place in the hands of managers to help them approach safety with their teams? Words and phrases like “Be Safe” or “Think Safety” are hollow with no real take away. 

Try Something New

Try this:  Give managers an easy tool to test employee safety knowledge and get both sides talking about their safety. 

In the new year, resolve to empower and engage your managers.  Encourage them to randomly ask their employees, face-to-face, three open-ended questions a month about safety.  No yes or no answers here; rather, questions employees should be able to answer because you provided training and their lives depend on it. 

Here are examples you, as the safety person, can distribute to your managers each month. 

Go ahead, give it a try!  See if you get something more than “what you always got.”

Example Questions:

Emergency Action                         

  1. Show me the two closest exits you would use to get out of the building in an emergency.
  2. If we evacuate, where is our gathering area outside the building?
  3. What would you do if ____(fill in with situation specific to your organization- i.e. ammonia release, violent situation, tornado) happened?

Fire Emergency                                             

  1. Show me the fire extinguisher closest to you.
  2. If we had a fire in another part of the building, how would you know about it and get out safely?
  3. For what size fire can you use our extinguishers?

Bloodborne Pathogens   

  1. Explain the process you use to take off your gloves.
  2. What goes in a red sharps container?
  3. How would you go about cleaning up blood?

Hazard Communication                              

  1. What is an SDS or Safety Data Sheet?
  2. How would you find an SDS if you needed to read the first aid section?
  3. What does this symbol mean?

Chemical Hazard Symbol

Hearing Conservation                                  

  1. When are you supposed to wear hearing protection?
  2. Show me how you wear your hearing protection.
  3. When was the last time you changed your ear plugs/muffs?

Respiratory Protection                                

  1. What does your respirator protect you from?
  2. Show me how you fit your respirator to your face.
  3. Tell me how you store your respirator at the end of your shift and explain how you clean it.

Confined Space                                             

  1. Which confined spaces are in your work area?
  2. Which confined spaces do you enter?
  3. Explain the steps you go through to safely enter and exit a confined space.

Forklift Operator                                                          

  1. When do you wear a seatbelt?
  2. What do you do before you drive into a trailer at our dock?
  3. What do you do if you can’t see over your load?

Electrical Safety                                                           

  1. How could you get an electric shock?
  2. Show me any cuts in cords, electrical conduit that is loose, ground pins that are missing or any equipment that can shock you.
  3. What would you do if you were working with damaged electrical equipment or cords?

Welding                                                                          

  1. Show me how you inspect your lead and what you to do when you find a problem.
  2. How do you protect your eyes when you are tacking?
  3. Show me how you use the ventilation system.

Lockout/Tagout                                                           

  1. Where do you keep the key for your lock when you have something locked out?
  2. Please walk me through the steps you take to lock out this piece of equipment.
  3. What do you normally do when more than one person is working on the same equipment?

 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)    

  1. Show me the PPE you wear everyday and what you wear for certain jobs.
  2. How do you know when it’s time to replace something?
  3. What can this PPE not protect you from?