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Getting to ZERO: One Task at a Time

American industry is still trying to come to grips with hitting ZERO injuries in the workplace.  More than 10 years ago I began my own campaign of keynote speeches, and leadership seminars and workshops feeling like Don Quixote.  Continually running headlong at the windmills of the ZERO injury safety culture.  Leaders and workers pushed back making statements like:

  • “It can’t be done!”
  • “This is a dangerous business and injuries just happen.”
  • “People are going to make mistakes!”
  • “Leadership is just interested in getting a bonus!”
  • “Isn’t safety someone else’s responsibility?”
  • “How can you make a workplace that safe?”
  • “Do you really think it’s possible?”

I would explain to anyone who would listen that ZERO is a goal, target, benchmark, ideal, or whatever you want to call it.  It requires vision, a process, effort, and the commitment of everyone in the organization.  It does not have to be berated and talked about 24/7, but it does have to become a simply seamless part of the business.  It is a big job that happens when we establish deliberate steps to accomplish the desired result.

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs ~ Henry Ford

Anything that seems to be impossible or just plain difficult must be broken down into steps.  In my Hazard Recognition and Control Workshop participants learn the process it takes to mitigate hazards.  Some clients understand what we are trying to accomplish and employ my Hazard Reporting Tool to make sure everyone is not just seeing and reporting hazards but also taking steps to mitigate the hazard to a lower level of risk.  As I like to say in my presentations, “What we are attempting to do is create a workplace where it is more difficult to get hurt.”  It takes effort to hit ZERO, it does not happen just because we say it will.

Here are a few conceptual steps to consider taking to prevent injuries:

  • Break the job of hitting ZERO injuries down to macro and micro work areas
  • Look at your overall location (think macro: big picture) and see it as a workplace
  • What is in your workplace that can cause injury? (identify hazards in the form of: material, conditions, or activity)
  • Take action to mitigate the hazards in the workplace to a lower level of risk, then
  • Take a look at your worksite (think micro: local or where you are completing tasks)
  • What is in your worksite that can cause injury? (this is a close-up, focused look)
  • What controls can be employed to mitigate the risk of injury (decrease the exposure or impact of the hazard), and remember
  • The main question we must ask ourselves is, “Do we want to reach ZERO injuries in our workplace, and are we willing to put out the necessary effort?”

A more appropriate may question may be, “Do I want to reach ZERO injuries in my worksite, and am I willing to put out the effort?”  Zero is a desired state that must become a personal target, and commit to expending the effort.  Effort is only expended when we are trying to accomplish something we want.  So today, ask yourself if you want to hit ZERO injuries and create a workplace/worksite where nobody gets hurt.

Be Safe!

Carl Potter, CSP

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Through his efforts Carl Potter has helped many a worker go home every day without injury.  His efforts have now lead him to develop and offer hazard recognition and control training to thousands of people in hundreds of workplaces in the United States and Canada.  To drive his philosophy of creating a workplace where it is difficult to get hurt he has developed a subscription based application for smart phones that requires not just reporting, but taking action to mitigate the risk posed by hazards in the workplace.  Carl invites you to watch a short video that describes the application so you can decide if it is a fit for your effort in preventing every workplace injury.

To view this informative video, CLICK HERE

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