Welcome back. Hope your Mayday celebration was exceptional and that spring weather has finally sprung where you live.
There is an ugly truth out there. Lets face it folks, no matter how many drills, safety meetings, training sessions, PPE wearing, accident investigations and consultations, workplace safety is just not glamorous! It’s like being a proctologist, who after years of training for the job is proud because they know what they do can be life saving and important but it’s not something family and friends really want to hear about at the dinner table.
There is no DC or Marvel superhero that embodies workplace safety as a super power although I honestly believe that Deadpool would make a great safety manager. There are no great songs about workplace safety that reflect the achievements over the years that we can all join in singing, in either rock, hip-hop or country western genres. There is no special section in the Louvre in Paris that exhibits workplace safety art, however Venus de Milo comes close or even a traveling King Tut safety art exhibition. Come to think of it there aren’t even any great phrases about workplace safety. You’ve never heard a coworker rally the staff at the beginning of a shift by shouting out, “Remember the LOTO!” There aren’t any sitcoms, dramas, action/adventure or novellas about workplace safety in the theaters or television even though we all know how funny and entertaining that could be.
Jerry (in sarcastic manner)
Newman (in sarcastic manner)
Jerry (jovial sounding)
“I see you’re caught in the gears again?” (audience laughter).
See what I mean? Hysterical stuff, no?
Since workplace safety is so cut and dry with very little flair for fashion it’s tough to sell. You would think PPE is purposely made to look ugly but then it’s made to protect you the best way possible with the latest technology. It also explains why pretty people who host DIY shows don’t always wear safety glasses and dust masks in front of the cameras, it’ll muss their hair. It would be fantastic if they gave a disclaimer at the beginning of the show that plain old said, “Due to poetic license our host does not always wear the proper PPE on site otherwise how could you see those perfect teeth made possible by our toothpaste sponsor and understand what they are saying. However, please do not do this at home but always wear the proper PPE.”
Sorry, I digress. Workplace safety is a tough sell. It’s a challenge to present material without putting your audience in a trance. One way to make it interesting is to have the workers do the demonstrations of LOTO procedures themselves to the group. Over the course of the year we’ll cover each piece of machinery in the plant with the head operators of that machine doing the actual LOTO and where the emergency shut off is located so everyone on my shift knew what was up. It’s nice to do since they’re not just hearing my voice all the time, like a parent, preaching how they’ll take their eye out if they’re not careful. Even PPE is beginning to look more fashionable too especially in footwear, safety glasses and bump caps.
When you conduct you safety meeting don’t just give handouts and leave it at that. I mean come on it’s cut and dry enough as it is and the best way to get that unapproving eye roll and no one has heard your message. You want your message of safety to stay with them and allowing your staff to be part of the discussion on the topic instead of spoon feeding it to them is critical to a successful safety meeting. Issues are brought up, solutions are discussed and resolutions are made. Wow! What can be wrong with that?
Usually nothing, but once in awhile you need to remind people the facts of life that they are accountable for their actions because even with the discussions or the reprimands or the suspensions there’s one who will not get the message and that can put others in jeopardy. If you have done everything you can to help get this individual back on track then you have done your best and it’s okay as well as in your best interest to part ways and move on.
Even with all the effort put in it appears that we are currently headed in the wrong direction. For FY 2016, 5,190 fellow human beings died in industrial accidents. This is the first time in almost 10 years that we’ve gone over 5,000 and has risen for three consecutive years. See the Infographic: workplace Deaths By The Numbers. This is why training is so critical and WHY you never keep quiet about safety. Even with the new corporate tax breaks some low life companies are padding their executives pockets rather then put the money back into the company for training and safer, newer equipment. If your company is not responsive to your concerns about safety, they don’t care about your health or well being you need to take matters into your own hands. Call the OSHA hot line 1-800-321-6742.
A watchdog group has put out a list of top offenders in workplace safety https://buff.ly/2I3RdJ7. But it’s not just these companies you have to worry about. There are many businesses like supermarket chains and other small stores that are not properly training staff anymore about safety and how to respond. This puts your life in danger when you visit these stores and why you can’t take your safety for granted and the best way to do that is to be as distracted free as possible. Stay focused on the task and let the little things wait until your shopping trip is done.
Until next time, stay safe my friends and remember, never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.