Building the right safety team can be challenging because it takes people with great core values, knowledge of the regulations and standards, critical thinking skills, common sense, and an open mind. Safety is measured by statistics, but just because people aren’t getting hurt doesn’t mean the facility is safe.
Employees are the most valuable company resource, so workplace safety must be held as the top priority for any operation. One of the three lies people tell themselves is Safety 1st. This tends to be forgotten or prioritized lower when customer demand increases, skilled labor decreases, and profits decline.
Specifications like ANSI and ISO standards were created to define how to properly protect workers from hazards. OSHA at the state and federal levels were created to enforce these standards. Unfortunately, OSHA regulations were written with blood because companies put these standards into effect reactively. This may seem harsh, but the point needs to be made clear due to the high level of accidents per year from poor workplace safety conditions as solidified in the OSHA top 10 most-cited violations list.
In order to improve these conditions, the right safety team must be assembled to properly evaluate and execute plans to improve workplace safety. No matter how many standards, rules, and regulations are created and enforced, if you don’t have the right team in place, it could all be irrelevant. Standards are written in a way left open to some interpretation to the countless variations of custom equipment in each category. This interpretation needs to be translated by safety personnel that understand the regulations to the workers responsible for the maintenance and operation of the machines. At the same time, the machine processes and interactions need to be explained to the safety personnel so both sides can come together and collaborate on creating the best or most effective solution. You also need to have a high-level exec with the authority to approve the plans to ensure progress moves forward.
Another key factor in pulling the right team together is finding and inviting in the source responsible for performing the workplace safety improvements. Due to the lack of time and the current decline of skilled trade, the company in need of the improvements are only able to help by offering administrative assistance and perspective related to the workplace. In an effort to provide long term, consistent support, a company focused on turnkey machine safety solutions is highly recommended.
Once the team is assembled, the focus switches to how change can be affected in a positive manner. First thing is to collectively create a mission statement defined by the vision of the desired outcome. Then you must determine roles and responsibilities of each team member based around their expertise of each person. As everyone gets on the same page, then general tasks should be created per the scope of the projects, which create a chain reaction of scheduled meetings, documentation and procedures, execution of the safety projects, media outlets to the employees and proper training all with a point person facilitating the project(s).
Once everything is in place, informing the employees is critical, which can be done by newsletters, internal memos and emails, company meetings, etc… The proper training must follow to ensure proper use of the new safety measures. Employees are an extension of the core team, so companies need to make sure they are encouraged to participate through suggestions and feedback before, during, and after the process. Safety is everyone’s responsibility! Following these tips when building a collaborative team that is focused on Safety 1st will be integral in improving workplace safety and employee morale.
Co-authored and published by Shawn Mantel, Owner / Operator at PowerSafe Automation and Professional Safety Journal (PSJ)
Shawn Mantel is the owner and author of the @powersafeautomation blog posts, where he helps to educate and spark ideas with workers on how to improve workplace safety through turnkey safety guarding solutions.
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