Something deep in the human psyche percolates to the surface on January 1st, usually sometime after the conclusion of the Pasadena Rose Parade and the half-time of one of the innumerable college bowl games. Perhaps the thought of a new year, filled with promise and seemingly endless possibilities, stirs the desire in us to make a resolution to improve ourselves in some tangible way.
Behavioral experts seem to agree that one of the reasons our ardor for fulfilling the resolutions we make dissolves before the end of the month—sometimes even sooner—is that we make a resolution that is too generalized. Examples include: “I will lose weight this year” and “I will exercise more.”
Businesses make New Year’s resolutions too. Often these resolutions address safety issues and, all too often, like our personal resolutions, they may be too generalized, and are abandoned after a brief but well intentioned period of time. Below are some practical, measurable, and, most importantly, attainable ideas that will add value to your safety program in 2011.
Go on a “Hazard Hunt.”
Your business may have already assessed the hazards associated with the job, and implemented means to either eliminate or mitigate the hazards. Consider the following:
• Take a look at housekeeping and the condition of work areas. (Do you have dust accumulations more than 1/32″, the thickness of a paperclip?, Are your workers inhaling wood or metal dust particles during surface prep sanding, drilling?, Is accumulated dust acting as a slip/fall or combustible dust hazard?)
• Examine tools and equipment to insure they are safe to use. (If you’re collecting combustible dust in a classed environment, is your vacuum cleaner a certified explosion-proof vacuum cleaner?)
• Observe the way employees work; you might be surprised by what you see. (Are they cleaning fast and efficiently with industrial vacuum cleaners or spending too much time cleaning with brooms?)
• Is the appropriate personal protective equipment in good condition and readily available?
• Identify other, possibly new hazards throughout your facility, and take action to eliminate these risks. (think, combustible dust, one of OSHA’s main focuses right now or Lead RRP violations).
Employee training is a vital aspect of any successful safety program.
• Review federal, state, local, corporate or industry specific policies for training requirements, as many regulations have very specific requirements. Often new or revised requirements are implemented (become law) on January 1st. (For Lead RRP info, check here. For more info on combustible dust regulations, check here, www.explosionproof-vacuum.com.)
• Take advantage of available technology to enhance and expand training options. Exciting new training methods are continually being introduced.
• Provide lots of demonstrations and hands-on experience during training sessions. (If you’re a Nilfisk Industrial Vacuumcustomer, remember that your local Nilfisk rep can provide demos and employee training!)
• Don’t forget to provide training for supervisors and managers too.
Encourage Employee Participation.
There’s an old saying: “Keep people up on things and they won’t get down on them.”
• Encourage employees to make suggestions about how to improve workplace safety. Reinforce this behavior by giving their suggestions serious consideration.
• Involve employees in problem-solving when challenging safety and health issues arise.
• Rely on safety committees composed of employees from all levels and positions to identify hazards, investigate accidents, and promote safe work habits among your workforce.
Recognize and Reward Safe Behavior.
Don’t forget to show your gratitude for the efforts employees, supervisors, and managers make to help create a safer workplace.
• Use recognition and reward programs to reinforce safe behavior and positive safety attitudes.
• Talk up safety at every opportunity. Let employees know that their safety is your top priority this year.
• Ask them to join you in making safety their top priority as well.
Review This List.
Use a “tickler” or abeyance file, or put an entry on your calendar to remind yourself to review this list, at least monthly, to gauge your progress and identify how far you’ve come toward a safer workplace.