What you don't know can get you hurt, and what you think you know can also get you hurt. Pretending not to know is like playing ostrich; stick your head in the sand and the problem doesn’t exist, only you know it does! When it comes to safety the person who is at risk for injury must be aware of the hazard and what can be done to control the hazard and prevent injury.
Evaluation is critical to creating a safe workplace and requires ongoing activity. Many organizations consider job hazard analysis as the only evaluation. What are executives, middle managers, and functional level employees doing to create a zero-injury environment? Are employees involved in the safety process? Can safety education and training at all levels be improved?
Education should increase a person's understanding of a subject, yet many organizations repeat the same safety training year after year and expect improved outcomes. It's not uncommon to find companies using the same script for training that has been used year after year. The effectiveness of this training has long been lost.
Enforcement is a subject that many leaders don't like to talk about. It's a matter that many associate with penalties, termination, and other uncomfortable consequences. Any organization or team that does not enforce expected behaviors is bound to fail due to the chaos created by those who decide not to follow the expectations.
To deal with this obstacle, enforcement of safe work practices should be approached as a way to solidify behavior acceptable to the organization. Creating a safe work environment doesn't mean you have to write a new rule every time someone gets hurt, but sadly many organizations react this way.
The New Year is here, and it is your choice to be proactive. What will you do at your level of the organization? How much time will you use over the next several months to increase your knowledge about safety? When company leaders and employees, and bargaining unit members get to know safety, they will find that it's possible to create a workplace where nobody gets hurt. That's something we can all live with.
Mouse over and click the pictorial at the right for an interesting read about evaluating your Safety Protocols for the New Year