Posts Tagged ‘workplace safety’

Promoting Interest in Safety

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Promoting Interest in Safety

One of the common subjects in any safety reference is how to get people interested in safety. Apparently, not getting hurt is not enough motivation for people to be interested in safety. Personally, I prefer to avoid getting injured whenever possible so working safely is just part of my work ethic.

Looking at a 1964 issue of the National Safety Council handbook, they suggest using “a pretty girl” to promote interest in industrial situations. They also recommend “a shaggy dog.” I guess there were not as many women working in industry back in 1964 as there are today.

The 5th edition of the Accident Prevention Manual suggests Using Pretty Girls to promote safety.

I notice that from internet search data that promoting safety is still a big concern for managers. Safety slogans and other safety promotional ideas still rank very highly.

However, it is my observation that all such safety promotions are basically useless. Unless you change the fundamental culture of the workplace, accidents will continue to happen and people will continue to get hurt no matter how many pretty girls hold up safety banners.

In order to create a safe working culture, we first need to consider why people get injured at work. Often injuries are caused by inattention to the job or by taking short cuts. Next we must consider why people take chances with their own safety either by not paying attention or by taking shortcuts.

I often see managers who perceive those who get hurt on the job as being lazy or who are otherwise not trying to do a good job. Often, however, the exact opposite is true. These people want to do a good job but due to their own lack of skill or understanding of mechanical principles, they take unnecessary risks. They may not realize how much danger they are facing; they are simply trying to do the best job they can with minimal effort on their part.

People who get injured may also be unconsciously punishing themselves. It the work environment is oppressive and devoid of positive reinforcement, they may injure them selves in an unconscious effort to prove that they are working as hard as they can.

In order to create a safe working environment, we can begin by placing clear expectations on the work that is to be preformed. By providing clear and detail work instructions that describe the safe and effective way of doing the job, employees will be less inclined to experiment with potentially unsafe methods. Supervision can play a huge role in insuring workers follow the safe work procedures by observing the work. If the procedures need to be changed to match current practice, then the revisions need to be investigated and implemented without delay. Employees should not be allowed to deviate from the prescribed safe and effective work instructions.

Care must be taken by supervisors not to reward unsafe procedures either by actively supporting unsafe practices or by ignoring them. If safety shortcuts are allowed to become part of the routine, a safety culture cannot be established.

For more information on creating a safe and effective working environment, see my other articles. Safety promotions become unnecessary once a safe and effective work environment has been established.

How to write safety procedures everyone will follow

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Considering Personality Types in Safety Procedures

People are different. Every one looks at life though the lens of his own personality type. By addressing these different personality types, we can create procedures that every one will follow.

Carl Jung defines four different personality types: Feeling, Thinking, Sensation and Intuition. Most personality psychologist use four similar categories, but with different names.

Since Sensation personality types tend to be good at accounting, care taking, collecting data organizing and supervising, they tend to end up in supervisory positions. Since they themselves are good at following directions they often think others are as well. They often don’t understand people who don’t follow instructions. After all, Sensation people follow instructions simply because the instructions are there.

Sensation personality types will not normally question the procedure; they simply want it to be executed fairly and consistently. If you are inconsistent in your enforcement, sensation personality types will follow the procedure simply because it is the procedure. But, if you change the procedure, you better give them some time to prepare as they also like to plan ahead.

Feeling personality types are good at being cooperative, mentoring, teaching and training. So these are the ones you want to use to present the new procedures to the people. They will be more interested in how the procedure makes them feel than what it is accomplishing. Also, in presenting procedures to Feeling personality types, it is important to recognize them as people first and employees second. Adding some fluff to the procedure that recognizes their humanness will win over the feeling personality types while annoying the thinking personality types. So be careful to find a balance.

Thinking personality types will want to know why. They will also be the ones to suggest a better way. Be sure you listen to them. Even if you don’t implement their suggestions, be sure you listen to them if you want them to follow your procedure. Make sure the procedure explains why the procedure is important to the process and how you came up with it. These explanations are very important to Thinking personality types.

Intuition personality types are the ones who pride themselves in not following the rules and can be the biggest challenge to generating procedures that every one will follow. Intuition personality types tend to be risk takers and impulsive. However they also make great leaders so if you get the Intuition personality types to buy in to a procedure they will bring the others along with them. To make the procedures palatable to the Intuition personality types, be sure to add some room for creative expression where possible. Understand their need for variety. Allow some options for them to choose from. In training for a new procedure be sure to include real world examples. Use funny stories if possible to get and hold their attention.

I often see procedures fail because the writer assumes that all people think like they do. And many managers think that “Because I said so” is good enough motivation to get people to follow a procedure. If you want employees to follow procedure when no one is looking, you need to consider the personality types of the employees.

Workpalce saftey tips number two

Friday, April 9th, 2010

See the original article here: Work place Safety Tips

2. Use guards and engineering solutions wherever possible instead of relying on PPE – personal protective equipment. PPE is hard to police and uncomfortable to wear. Find a way to prevent the exposure in the first place. Your workers will be much more productive if they are comfortable.

PPe should be used as a last resort for keeping workers safe on a regular basis. Far too often I see PPE used as the primary mechanism for avoiding hazards.

Most machines and operations can be designed with enough guards and safer material flow paths to eliminate hazards for workers without resorting to PPE. Personally I hate working in safety glasses and gloves all day. I would much prefer to work in an environment where I feel safe to be there with out a lot of PPE involved.

At one converting plant I worked with, we designed and installed Plexiglas shields over the folder gluers to eliminate the need for safety glasses when working around the machine. The guards eliminated the hazard of flying cartons while still allowing the operators to see the adjust the process.

Productivity went up and waste went down as operators felt safer interacting with the machine.

[phpbay]safety glasses, 10[/phpbay]

How to Prevent Workplace Violence

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Violence in the workplace has long been an issue for managers to deal with. Unlike other workplace safety issues, the dramatic nature of the events makes them difficult to prepare for.

The causes of workplace violence are many and varied. However, the chances of having a workplace violence incident in your facility will be greater when there is a hostile atmosphere. High stress workplace environments also lead to work place violence issues.

Often domestic disputes and other outside influences such as drug deals and other outside interests play out in the workplace. While these outside factors may be out of our direct control, there are ways of reducing their impact on the operation.

One precursor of workplace violence that needs to be carefully controlled is horseplay. While workers need to have freedom to express themselves, horseplay can quickly get out of hand and have dangerous if not fatal consequences. I suspect injuries due to horseplay are severely underreported due to the nature of the interpersonal relationships.

In order to reduce the chances of a workplace violence incident, you need to create a safe and empowering work environment. Employees who feel good about themselves will not feel the need to increase their self worth by bringing down others. Workplace bullying and workplace violence go hand in hand.

Promoting good team work where each person’s value in inherent in the system will help everyone feel better about themselves. A quality employee performance system will also help aid employees self esteem. The better and more valuable employees feel about hem selves the less likely they will be to attack others in a effort to improve their status. Also, people who feel good about them selves will not attract violence into their lives.

A belief in some form of lack is usually the basis for workplace violence. When people feel that there is not enough money or not enough time or more often not enough recognition to go around, they begin to attract violence to themselves so that they can become a victim. Or they may lash out at others in defense of some supposed injustice.

Many workers feel that intimidation is the only way they can feel good about themselves. They like to harass other workers, especially new hires. If these people are rewarded for teaching and training new or slower workers, they will get the self esteem boost they need with out resorting to the hazing that leads to violence.

As managers, we can find ways to boost the self esteem of our workers. I once had an electrician who, while very intelligent, had difficulty getting along with his fellow workers. He would get belligerent when people questioned his intelligence and the other workers become fond of finding ways to make him look bad. I put him in charge of developing our lock out tag out plan. He felt self worth because he had been asked to perform sun an important task. Other people were forced to work with him because the procedures he developed they would have to follow for posterity. They also began to respect him because they saw the amount of time and research he had to put into each procedure. After only a few days into the project the hazing and arguing peacefully disappeared.

Another worker I had liked to harass new workers. He had been with the plant from the day it opened and loved to show off his expertise. He refused to follow new safety rules and generally made life miserable for a lot of people. My boss wanted to find a way to early retire him and the union even tried to get him fired.

I put him in charge of training new workers. He got the recognition he deserved. He began to feel good about himself and his contribution become valued to both the company and his fellow workers. He could be the hero trouble shooter without having to cause problems in the first place. Through this simple job restructuring, both the company and the employee benefited. So did all his co workers.

When dealing with specific problem employees, you need to get to know them and make an effort to understand their values. The need to feel valuable and important is universal. Finding ways to help people feel good about themselves will not only help reduce violence in the workplace, but will benefit productivity as well.

By creating a safe and validating work environment, employees will feel good about themselves. Make sure they know what is expected of them and be consistent in the response when employees fail to meet expectations. Expect only the best from your employees and do what you can to remove the blocks to their best performance.

Good, solid policies and procedures are critical to maintaining a safe work environment. When everyone knows what is expected of them and knows how to do their jobs, every one will feel better about themselves. They will inherently know when they are doing a good job without the need for constant supervision. People who feel good about themselves will not act violently toward others nor will they attract violence onto themselves.

While the causes of workplace violence are varied and complex; preventing workplace violence is as simple as addressing these key areas. Make sure employees are rewarded for working well together. Make sure employees feel they are making a valuable contribution and make that value known to others. Make sure people know what is expected from them in the workplace and be consistent in the implementation of the policies and procedures.

To learn more see Straw Solutions Safety Coaching program.

Safety Slogans for the Workplace

Friday, March 13th, 2009

My favorite safety slogan has always been: I expect you to leave here with the same number of fingers and toes that you came in with. I always felt this one gets the point across.

My least favorite safety slogan for the workplace is Safety is our number one priority. If that were the case then why not just pay people to stay home. That would bring workplace injuries to zero in just one day. The company might not stay in business long, but, if workplace safety was the number one priority, that would not matter as long as people were safe.

So lets get real about safety slogans for the workplace. We want slogans that will make people think about safety. We want slogans that let people know we care. We need safety slogans that people will believe.

When attempting to inspire people to work more safely you need to consider both their motivations and yours. Typically as the employer you are interested in workplace safety either due to some government or corporate regulation or because you want to save money on workers comp claims. As an employee, you are interested in doing what is required to keep your job with the least effort that will produce acceptable results.

When choosing as safety slogan for your workplace, you need to consider what is relevant to your hazards. For example a safety slogan for a hospital would be very different from a metal stamping operation. Watch out for pricks. might work well one place and have a totally different meaning in the other.

One difficulty in choosing a good safety slogan for your workplace is making the statement in a positive manner. NPL practitioners have told us for years that the subconscious mind does not hear the negative. So, if our safety slogan is dont hurt your hand, all the subconscious mind hears is hurt your hand.

Also, what ever we think about tends to expand. So if our slogan causes us to think about hand injuries, we will have more hand injuries. We need safety slogans that promote a positive thought process.

Again back to our example of hand injuries. Keep your hands safe for the things you love to do would paint a positive image. Especially if printed over a picture of a cute puppy or something else that is pleasing to touch. In the hospital setting, you could have something like Keep your pricks covered. That might not be the best phrasing but you get the idea.

Coming up with a safety slogan is easy if you just take time to look around your workplace. Look at the behavior that you wish to reinforce. Put that in the slogan. Avoid vague statements like Safety Pays. Get specific in the behavior that you want more of.
Make your workplace safety slogans relevant, funny and to the point. Coming up with new safety topics and slogans does not have to be a chore. Just look around and you will see plenty of things to focus your efforts on. Hey, safety is no accident.

For more workplace safety tips, see http://www.mikestrawbridge.com/workplace-safety-training.shtml