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Salty Safety

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other. – Book of Mark chapter 9 verse 50

The value of salt was once so great that even in the year 1540 the Salt War was fought over taxation of salt. Back in the days before refrigeration salt was a preservative use to make food last longer. This simple element is still in use today and gourmet cooks enjoy many kinds of salts used such as sea, lemon, garlic, onion, etc. In previous years workers were paid with salt which led to the question, “Are you worth your salt?”

The unexamined life is not worth living.  – Socrates

So here is my question, “Are you salty about safety?” Salt has a way of bringing out the flavor in food when applied in the correct amounts, while too much salt can over-power the flavor. But salt as a whole is a vital part of human survival because our bodies need a certain amount of salt for chemical balancing. Being too salty about safety can begin to over-power the organization and cause people to roll their eyes and say, “Here we go again.” On the other hand, safety used in the proper amounts can help us to draw out possible changes in how we do our work that might save money and make it easier to perform tasks.

Many companies who use chemicals to produce their products have used Hazard Recognition and Control to identify, evaluate and control those chemicals that can cause injury to the environment and people. In many cases fewer hazardous chemicals were substituted leading to reduced cost, fewer policies and procedures, and simpler personal protective equipment. In retrospect the work was made safer, easier, and more efficient. When applied in the correct amounts safety can improve the work environment.
Personally, I always taste my food before reaching for the salt. I have friends that are just the opposite who reach for the shaker and dump salt on everything. In our office we receive calls from clients who want to improve their safety culture. Some are like my friends who reach for the shaker and start telling us what they need. After listening we ask, “How do you know that’s what you need?” This is usually followed by a pause and they realize they might be assuming that dumping a lot of safety on the organization is what needs to happen. Every organization and individual has a level of safety just like food already has a level of saltiness. To assume the organization needs “more safety” before analyzing the situation is like dumping salt on your food before tasting. In the coming year consider assessing your safety culture to do a taste test and analyze what level safety is necessary for your organization so that you can apply the correct measure.

For organizations that want to do something but are not sure what they need, I suggest some safety topics that never overpower the culture. You cannot go wrong with:
• Having a safety meeting with food and guest speaker who motivates
• Conducting a safety walk through to identify areas of immediate improvement
• Holding a facilitated safety discussions to answer questions and engage employees
• Providing short weekly safety topics that teach OSHA or other regulatory rules, or
• Bringing in my Hazard Recognition and Control Workshop

Let’s work together in the next 12 months to improve your organization’s safety culture. If we can identify the correct amount and type of safety “salt” to apply, your organization will see success and see everyone will go home every day without injury.

by Carl Potter, CSP, CMC

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