If you haven’t heard, this is National Safety Month. Just like Rodney Dangerfield’s famous “I get no respect” line, worker safety needs more respect and dedicated attention. I believe it should be your No. 1 priority — personally, operationally and professionally. So let’s all take some time to discover and review what we can do to make life safer.
Every day we are taking some sort of risk. The trick is to notice the risks facing us and the environment we are living and working in. You may have heard the saying “beware of your surroundings.” If you and your staff take anything away from this month’s column, make sure it is that important statement. I have learned to repeat those four words to myself often, whether at work or just doing everyday activities. Over the years, and I am not understating, it has saved me from injury and even death on more than a few occasions. Practicing safety does not need to be complicated.
Make Safety Part of Weekly Meetings
Does your organization have a safety manager and a safety training program? Even if you run a small company, then you are the safety manager. The only way you will see any results is to have at least one individual dedicated for at least a few minutes each week on instructing and implementing methods of reducing risk in your organization.
Now that you have someone in charge of safety, you will need a safety training program. I know at this point some of you are thinking: “I tell my guys to be safe on the job. They are, for the most part, pretty smart techs, and I trust them to use good judgment. Why waste valuable time going over obvious safety steps?” Anyone who has done any type of training knows that for an effective program one needs to take concepts and best practices and reinforce them through observation and discussion. This is why you need to have at least 15-20 minutes dedicated for safety training in your weekly morning tech meetings. No, not monthly, they should be part of your overall weekly tech meetings, which need not run more than an hour.
Safety is only one small, but very important, element of your weekly meeting. Your staff will appreciate you as a manager taking a moment to discuss the latest technical issues, operations procedures, customer management and staff feedback. If you have senior and junior techs, it is a great opportunity for your senior staff to mentor some of your new techs as well. I have even been told that some managers use my monthly “Tech Talk” as a discussion point in their staff meetings (don’t keep all the good stuff to yourself ).
Where can you find good safety training material? You can prepare all your own material or save time and use quality existing training material. You can get much of your material for free. One source is the Toolbox Talks Handouts from CPWR (Center for Construction Research and Training). They have a collection of 52 free handouts — how convenient, one for every week of the year. Another good safety program material and handout resource is elcosh.org (the Web site of the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health). You may also want to order Safety+Health magazine, a free subscription from the National Safety Council.
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