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Is Your Safety Engine Making Power?

Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer. ~ Denis Waitley

If we focus on what personnel are doing wrong and not finding ways to improve and move forward, then your safety culture will not just stall, it will die. If you have read my articles and blogs you may know that I am a pilot.  I fly my own airplane and understand the importance of an engine that makes power when needed the most.  I would like to use the analogy of an engine to help you tune-up your safety management system.

Many organizations have a safety management system and when OSHA shows up to inspect the company representatives say, “This is how we report hazards” and then OSHA is led to a computer to show how employees report hazards.  Conversely, some may show them a sheet of paper on a clipboard used to report hazards, and then show them a stack of reports (which have yet to been entered into the system) and a filing cabinet with past handwritten reports that do not have any evidence of mitigation.  Either way, the point is OSHA wants to know if your people are using the reporting system, mitigating the risk, and management is following-up to confirm the mitigation strategy used is consistent.  They want to see if you are keeping your safety engine tuned-up.

To really tune-up your safety engine employees, supervisors, and management need to understand the importance of hazard recognition, how to recognize hazards, and what the steps are to mitigate risk.  You may have some miss-fires that may not only cause you to be fined by OSHA but can also have a negative impact on your safety culture.

If you have people that are using the reporting system and stacks of reports are being generated either digitally or in piles on the safety administrator’s desk, an OSHA inspector will frown.  This shows that your safety engine is in place but at best idling, and not making power.  If reporting is all that is taking place without mitigation, the engine is not making power.  Soon the results will be that personnel stop looking for hazards and not turning them in because they see it as a waste of time.  The answer to the problem is simple but it still takes constant attention to keep the safety engine running on all cylinders to make power.

First you have to train personnel in what to look for in the workplace.  During this training participants must understand the importance of and their role and responsibility in mitigation and reporting.  Additionally, participants must be trained in how mitigation is applied and what results can be expected.  Hazard recognition and control is required knowledge to improve the skill of recognition, evaluation, and control.

When everyone has their eyes on the workplace to identify hazards and are able and willing to participate, your safety engine is going to perform when needed the most.  Just like my aircraft takes commitment by me as a pilot to monitor the health of my engine and operate it properly, we must monitor the health of our safety engine. It takes training for me to know what to do and to know what results I can expect.  Moreover, I hire a mechanic who is trained to work on the engine so that I get all horsepower available.  Your safety engine is much the same way.

If you are walking through your workplace and find hazards such as in this picture, you may have a safety engine that needs to be tuned-up.  Your personnel may not understand the important role and responsibility they have in performing hazard recognition and control.  If you have stacks of hazards that have been turned in and no mitigation action has been taken, you do have some performance issues with your safety engine and I encourage you to take the time to analyze and make repairs so that you can create a workplace where it is difficult to get hurt.

I would like to offer you help…

If you would like to see how the Safety Institute can help train your personnel to understand the importance and the how-to of hazard recognition and control, consider scheduling a workshop at your location.  Another option is to attend or send some of your people to one of our open enrollment opportunities.  You can visit and learn about the workshop and read the responses from past participants.  You can also click on the link to open enrollment opportunities on the page to see if there is a workshop near you.

I look forward to working with you in the future to help you get your organization’s safety engine making power.

Be Safe!

Carl Potter, CSP

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