Training is the cornerstone of keeping workers educated about safety. Yet sometimes it isn’t enough to prevent injury or death, according to EHS Today. In one example, an employee who worked for Cintas, a work uniforms company, made a mistake during a routine maintenance procedure and died. Cintas senior director for safety, Rick Gerlach, then proceeded to create a new certification program that would further encourage Cintas maintenance personnel to work hard at creating a safe workplace.
“We really wanted to get to the point where our maintenance teams not only would understand what they were supposed to do but also would accept and embrace the rules and see the relationship between safety procedures and going home at the end of the day,” Gerlach said. “We wanted them to follow the rules not because they’re rules, but because we care about them and we firmly believe that if they follow the safety rules, they’re not going to get hurt in our plants.”
Putting together a strategy for educating workers
Certain jobs may need to be carried out precisely and repeatedly throughout the day. It may be a good idea to treat the training program as a time to emphasize getting safety right every time, no matter how repetitive it feels. Employers may want to develop a pattern for equipment use that includes all the appropriate checks and rechecks to ensure that items intended to be powered off are indeed shut down, along with any other requisite safety guards in place. By making this into a pattern that is repeated time and again, employees may become safer because they will remember exactly how to do something the right way out of habit.
Additionally, it’s important to consider one’s state of focus. Workers should be alert without distractions such as music or other sounds around dangerous tools or equipment, so that safety is top of mind.
According to Green Biz, a sustainable business website, employers who want to educate their workers may want to make the goals of the education crystal clear. In other words, a company may consider making all the directions for staying safe around a machine absolutely explicit. Training leaders may want to demonstrate properly using a machine, and then have each employee repeat through the motions.
Singling out excellence, building teamwork
Recognizing excellent safety goes a long way to keeping people safe. Employers may want to find workers who continuously practice good procedures and have them mentor co-workers, so that they keep a close watch on any potentially dangerous activity.
This also fosters a spirit of teamwork, which can be leveraged. Companies that teach their workers to watch each other’s backs may be taking the right approach. Safety is ultimately not the concern of each individual, but the concern of the team, and when everyone is making sure that precautions stay in place, then all the employees are being safe at the same time.
For another look at a potential method for keeping workers safe, in a separate article, EHS Today discussed lean safety, which emphasizes making safety function as elegantly simple as possible. Although it sounds like a way of making safety cheaper or downsized, that isn’t what it is at all, according to Robert Haley, a lean safety expert.
“Each process can be taken apart and improved endlessly,” Hafey said. “As a safety professional, you can take the same lean thinking and apply it to the processes that compose your safety program, and you can make safety a continuous-improvement activity.”