Most folks would rather endure a root canal procedure than attend a safety meeting. And that’s perfectly fine, as long as you are confident that you know all there is to know about doing a job safely. Admittedly, most safety meetings are mind-numbingly boring. That’s largely the fault of the safety community. We need to change that failing.
Safety is boring, unless and until, of course, you’re sitting in the ER Waiting Room. Now THAT can be the definition of boring. By the way, those ridiculous highway signs bragging about ER wait time in minutes are total fiction. You’re going to be there for hours. Minimum.
All of which is to emphasize that there is no middle ground on most of this safety stuff. You are either committed to it and a true believer, or you are comfortably in denial and planning to remain there.
In July the Virginia Safety Police (VOSH) issued a press release about an alarming spike in workplace fatalities. We are about 18% ahead of this time last year. That’s a big jump in funerals. All preventable. No particular industry is to blame, they cover the waterfront. Industrial, construction, educational, agricultural. No one is immune.
Antidote: Make sure you are saying the word “Safety” to your people at least daily. More often if the work is high hazard, i.e. fall protection. Rub their noses in it for emphasis. The message needs to come from the most senior people in your organization; in other words, show commitment and leadership. The more detailed the message, the better.
Telling a worker to ‘Be Safe’ is pretty lame. Telling them to ‘Buckle Up’ and burn daytime running lights is better. Telling then to leave a lot of space to the guy in front of them is better still. Putting a dash board camera and GPS on their rig is really sending the message.
Hispanic worker populations? Make absolutely sure the safety instructions they hear are translated, comprehensible and meaningful to them. Inclusivity is the goal. For extra credit, start pushing for basic English as a common language.
Ideally, your safety process will include the concepts of empowerment, enabling, self-directed ownership of the process, contributing, and participation. Safety Committees are an important organization-building formative step. If you plan on being in business five years from now, these concepts need to be on your agenda – short and mid-term.
OSHA, the federal Safety Police, has been busy lately as well. They recently increased their penalty structure by a lot. And they are on the way to require electronic reporting of all Recordable Cases. Meaning: your clients can easily check on your safety record. Along with your Workers Comp insurance Mod (EMF). No place to hide now.
These are all pretty good reasons to ramp up your safety mantra. The most compelling reason is to put those Emergency Rooms out of business.