When it comes to safety, it may seem like a no-brainer that those who have OSHA to guide them would not become complacent. However, for those who work in the construction or warehousing fields, it does not work like that.
Workers need regular reminders about safety so that accidents do not occur as often. With some simple implementations, the idea of being safe will always be on their minds.
Even Marines Forget About Safety
Combat engineers are an important part of the Marine Corps' operations. A good friend of mine was telling me, though, that back in 2005 when he was in Fallujah, they had a workplace accident.
The platoon was clearing debris into a 7-ton truck and began making a game of launching it from 50 feet away, not knowing that a fellow lance corporal was on the side of the truck. A piece of 2"x4" missed the truck and hit him in the head, cutting him.
It was a needless non-combat injury, further proving the importance of being safe.
How Many Days Since the Last Accident?
One of the best ways to have a regular reminder about safety is to set goals for how many days a team can go without a workplace incident. When certain benchmarks are met, such as a month, 50 days, 100 days, and so on, there should be a celebration. Perhaps the team can get out of work an hour early, get creative!
This needs to be implemented with a visual reminder so that people can see it. When the day is over and it has been without accidents, a team member should be asked to change the number so as to reinforce the good day that was just had.
Recognition goes a long way in the workplace. When a person does something exceptional, whether it is revising a safety program, taking on extra responsibilities, or finding a defect in a piece of machinery, they need to be publicly rewarded. A plaque, a gift card, or even a trophy can accompany this reward.
This inspires safety and lets people on the team know that they are truly valuable. There are few times that people are recognized, and when they save lives, they need to know that the leadership of the team recognizes their contributions.
Incentives for being safe can be a touchy subject, check out this active discussion on LinkedIn.
Encourage Open Communication
Open communication with safety managers and co-workers is essential to create a safety conscious work environment. Employees need to know they can come to management without fear of retribution to report violations of safety procedure.
When workers are encouraged to communicate about safety they begin to take an actionable approach to workplace safety. This keeps safety at the forefront of their minds.
Safety is a big issue on construction sites. The ways in which serious accidents can occur are countless, thanks to the nature of construction. Federal OSHA’s statistics show that of the roughly 4,600 fatal work-related accidents in the U.S. in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, 721 of them occurred on construction sites. This doesn’t even count the thousands of non-fatal accidents that can change an employee’s life forever.
What can safety professionals do to promote construction safety and prevent serious accidents from occurring on their job sites? Certainly having the support of management to have a safety-minded culture and having the proper safety equipment for employees to use are indispensable. Assuming those are already in place, here are some questions that the construction safety professional can ask to constantly improve safety on their job sites.
- What have I done today to make my job site safer?
- Are the employees working here today using the safety equipment that they have been provided?
- Have I talked to any workers in the past two days to learn another thing about safety on this job?
- Has anything changed on the job site since yesterday that introduces a new hazard that wasn’t here yesterday?
- Have I walked the job site today looking for unsafe behavior or equipment?
- Am I willing to take action against employees who continually behave in an unsafe manner in order to keep them and the people working with them safe?
- Have I talked to my boss lately about safety issues on this job site?
- When was the last time I checked the OSHA regulations to make sure there are no new requirements that affect my employer’s job sites?
- Do employees feel that they can come to me about safety concerns so that they don’t “drop a dime” on my employer with OSHA?
- Have I done what I promised others that I would do to take care of potential safety hazards on this job site?
Everyone says that safety is their number one priority on their job sites, but on at least 721 job sites in 2011 something went wrong. Even if employees have their own responsibility for safety on the job, it’s the safety professional’s job to make sure that those words get translated into action.
Workplace safety is not just important because of legal and liability reasons, but having healthy and happy workers should be a top priority for an employer. Below are some ways to be a great safety leader in your workplace.
- Push Sick Time Usage – It may sound crazy to promote workers’ using their sick time, but many times employees show up to work with contagious viruses and serious health conditions. This puts everyone in the office at risk. From a health perspective, it is better to allow these employees to stay home and take the day off, or allow them to work from home. Of course, this should only be for legitimate illnesses!
- Daily Cleaning and Maintenance – One of the leading causes of work-related injuries is slips and falls. Be a daily monitor for any shared spaces in the workplace to ensure trash, spills and unsafe obstacles are cleaned up or removed in a timely manner. The likelihood of an accident is reduced a great amount by keeping the place clean and orderly.
- Securing Your Workplace – Another good way to limit unauthorized individuals from entering your workplace is with security check-ins or key card access. Providing a safe and secure entry to work will give you and your employee’s better peace of mind when working.
- Prepare for Emergencies - Believe it or not, about 90 percent of cardiac arrest victims die on their way to the hospital or before they reach the hospital. Having emergency equipment in the office, such as a defibrillator, can help save a person’s life.
- Get Informed - It is your employer’s responsibility to ensure that you are informed of and have access to all relevant safety standards for your industry. Don’t make assumptions that you are being told everything you need to know.
- Stay Equipped - Keep your safety equipment in good order and up to date.
- Be an Agent of Culture Change - the wrong attitudes about safety can be infectious. Use your influence to emphasize the importance of safety and everyone going home safe and happy at the end of every day.
- Set an Example - the first principal of any leadership role is to practice what you preach.
- Be Your Brother’s Keeper - If you see someone who is going to do something foolish, speak a word to them. They may harass you about it, but you’ll both be glad at the end of the day for watching out for your co-worker.
- Safety Training and Drills - Be a leader by promoting and training all employees so that they can administer life-saving techniques. Knowing how to give CPR and how to perform the Heimlich maneuver can come in very handy in an emergency. By the time it takes for emergency personnel to reach your business, a life could be saved by you or one of your own employees if they are properly trained. You should take the time as a leader to train employees on evacuation and emergency procedures as well.
Additionally, you should make sure that you and all employees know the Occupation Health and Safety Act (OSHA) so that you remain compliant with the guidelines. This will keep employees safer and reduce liability in the office.
Employee safety should be a top priority in any company. Apart from the obvious heartache associated with worker deaths and injuries, workers who are injured on the job could sue the company for financial damages. They may also be less productive when they do return to work. Therefore, it is important that employers effectively communicate safety standards to every employee.
- Send An Email or Newsletter – if your employees have a company email address, make sure that everyone gets an email outlining safety standards at least once a month. Another way is mailing a newsletter to the address of every employee; you can include one with their paystub as well.
- Post Signage Throughout The Workplace – Place a sign where employees punch in, in break rooms, around equipment and wherever else employees frequently congregate. Be creative and use video and other mediums to help reinforce standards.
- Take Pictures Of Safe Actions – A picture is worth a thousand words! Make it perfectly clear what the expectations are by taking pictures of employees demonstrating these actions. Include these in your newsletters and emails.
- Hold Meetings (Toolbox Talks)- To ensure that everyone is getting the message, hold small-group meetings that are mandatory for all employees. Make Toolbox Talks a part of the daily routine to review and discuss safety standards.
- Require Appropriate Training- If you send people out untrained, you are communicating that safety doesn't matter. People learn more from the workplace culture than from the signs that are posted. Create a culture of safety in the workplace by properly training your employees.
- Safety Comment Cards- Encourage employees to hold each other accountable and spot unexpected hazards by providing safety comment cards. You could also include a form on your company’s Intranet to make it easier for people to access.
- Make It Part Of The Employee Review Process- If an employee is not being safe, it should be brought up at their next performance review. Likewise, you should reward people who are working safety.
- Don't Skimp on the Safety Gear Budget- Communicate priority in your safety budget. If you are buying the cheapest safety harnesses and glasses, no wonder people don’t want to wear them! Put an emphasis on safety by buying quality gear that people will want to wear.
- Routine Safety Checks- Supervisors should walk around the premises on a regular basis to do fall safety checks. No one should be exempt from the safety standards implemented by the company. Employees who break these rules should be warned and then sent home if the behavior does not change.
- Share Case Studies or Incident Reports- Put the reality behind the need for safety, by sharing events about real people who have been affected by insufficient safety measures.
These 10 tips can help your company establish coherent safety message and increase fall safety awareness in your organization. The good news is that these are easy tips to follow and implement in your company. While it may take some time for everyone to learn and follow the rules, putting some of these ideas into practice will help to create a safer work environment for everyone.
Yes! That's a stuffed monkey in a fall protection harness! I got this picture from a friend over the Thanksgiving holiday and it got me thinking that the best way to help create safety conscious employees is to emphasize safety from a young age.
Believe me, I'm not suggesting that we start installing harnesses on playground equipment or get crazy about the fact that kids climb trees, but I am saying that some simple reinforcement at a young age can reap great rewards for creating a safer work environment.
Here are a few thoughts about emphasizing work safety with children:
- Model it! This is really the most important thing isn't it? Practice what your preach. Monkey see, monkey do. If kids see parents and other role models with blatant disregard for their own safety, will they be led to to practice safety themselves? Maybe, but not likely!
- Integrate Work Safety into Play - Kids love dress up. Make sure to pick up some extra personal protection equipment for your kids. They'll love wearing hard hats, safety goggles, you name it! My kids have little log cabin that they climb on in the back yard. Sometimes they play roofer and tie themselves off while banging on the plastic roof!
- Observe and Comment - When you pass a work site or read a kids book, ask you kids to tell you if they are working safe or not. This will emphasize the importance of working safely as a part of how they view the environment.
- Practice - This is right up there with modeling. When building a project with your kids make sure they are wearing the proper safety gear. Kid sized work gloves and safety goggles are not always easy to find a the local home store, but the Internet is your friend. Remember to buy in bulk...they'll go through them faster than you do!
- Encourage Leadership - By leadership I mean the ability to "go against the flow." I am sure that a lot of unsafe working conditions are caused by the simple fact that people just do what others are doing instead of thinking "what should I be doing?" This kind of leadership has nothing to do with personality, it has everything to do with "making sure that your kids don't jump off a bridge just because their friends do."
These are just a few ideas to emphasize a safe work environment with children. Please share your own thoughts and comments below.