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July 27, 2010

Proactive Prevention Safety Culture – Twelve Ways to Reduce Injuries in the Workplace


By John Baumann

As a follow-up to my presentation, here are the 12 Tangible Takeaways:

Injuries are a result of well-trained employees making poor decisions. An example that everyone can relate to is the chance of a car accident any particular time you are in your car is extremely low, but when it does happen, wearing a seatbelt can be the difference between life and death. Employees tend to take risks at work when the chance of injury is extremely low. You wear a seatbelt every time you are in a car because it is the smart thing to do. In the real world, I doubt that many, if any at all, injuries have actually been avoided as a result of someone saying, “if I do this safer action instead of that less safe action I will get a safety award, our division will keep a “no lost time injury” streak going, or because a safety slogan is posted in the work area.” How many “injuries” have, in fact, been covered up or not reported to keep an “injury-free” streak alive in a company or division of a company? Safety is a culture – its about making better decisions every time EVEN WHEN NOONE IS LOOKING. You need to create a safety culture of proactive prevention.

1) First step in creating a safety culture of proactive prevention: Knock’em down one at a time – Simple question to ask every time an accident occurs: “What can be done to prevent this, or something similar to this, from happening again?” To get to the real root cause, ask why five times. More training is not a silver bullet. Proper training and real management commitment are a given. “Employee carelessness,” “inattentiveness” and “human error” are overused cop-outs.

2) Investigate every injury as if it were a death.

3) Investigate every “close call” (formerly near miss) as if it were a death.

4) Engineer a corrective action to not allow carelessness to occur.

5) Corrective Action Implementation thought process should exceed decision thought process.

6) Have SAFETY MANAGEMENT STYLE focused on why you are “insisting on seatbelts” (because you care about your people as opposed to going to punitive measures right away).

7) Safety Ownership/Awareness Hierarchy – Limbo: How low do you go?

Corporate Safety Manager (one pair of eyes) –

Top Manager (Another pair of eyes) –

All Managers (X pair of eyes) –

ALL Supervision (X+Y pairs of Eyes) –

All supervision plus safety committee (X+Y+Z pairs of eyes) –

ALL EMPLOYEES (Max coverage – complete ownership)

8) Explain that it is in each employees SELF-INTEREST to reduce injures to all employees:

–      not have to clean up mess

–      lower future premiums

–      equity returned

–      not have to deal with lawyers

–      not have to search files for documents

–      not have to search computer for emails

–      not have to be deposed

–      not be called as a witness

–      not have to find a replacement

–      not have to clean up mess when replacement is injured, etc.

–      not have to train a replacement

–      not have to fill out a report

–      not have to explain what happened to a spouse

–      not have to pay out a settlement

9) Conduct (surprise or planned) mock OSHA inspections (internal or hire contractor).

10) Use the non-enforcement, educational department in OSHA to perform informational inspections (if state has such a program)?

11) Implement a legitimate, not-meant-to-punish return-to-work program.

12) Provide supervisors with regular training on the signs of drug use.

The goal is not to save costs, avoid OSHA citations, etc. The goal is to prevent accidents and injuries from occurring in the first case.

Feedback from Safety Workshop:

  • · Liked the way he took a lot of miscellaneous ideas, perceptions, attitudes about safety to focus and spotlight the real source to develop programs.
    • · Member participation – motivational – clear & concise – belief in what way presented – underlying sense of humor in presentation kept me interested.
    • · Wonderful speaker – made some very good points to ponder
    • · Great – engaging, fun and informational
    • · Excellent – very sincere.
    • · He is a great speaker.
    • · Very good message.  I am not a fan of the small group thing, but it worked.
    • · Very Good Topic and Message was presented very well.
    • · Time flew by, I thought that John did a good job.
    • · Good Information – informative.  John was a good facilitator.
    • · Very good ideas, tips, etcs.
    • · Great Ideas, comments / made you think of others ways to help promote safety
    • · Good interactive, enjoyed the small groups.
    • · Good introduction, very knowledgeable speaker.
    • · Will put to good use.
    • · Good Speaker, Good content and entertaining.
    • · Good, Thought provoking.

Some good ideas to use.

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