The Safety Agenda
Creating An Attitude to Change Lives
When starting a leadership discussion on safety, the natural inclination for most people is to consider physical safety (OSHA, etc). Many companies have reacted from purely a compliance perspective, yet others have embraced safety and expanded upon the intent. I’ve learned that safety is both physical and intellectual (different viewpoints matter), with a key requirement being attitude.
Early in my career, specifically my second role, I became an Environmental, Health and Safety Engineer. The position gave me a broad view on training, policy, manufacturing process, product management and the need for precision. My boss/mentor was John Cox, who was a Chemical Engineer like me, but he also was an Industrial Hygienist and Professional Engineer.
Physical safety was the primary focus of my job when I was an EH&S engineer, but John’s guidance then and now provided me with intense insight on EH&S in the workplace while simultaneously showing how this discipline can be incorporated into everything we do.
The exposure that I received provided me with an agenda for leadership discussions, but also impacted my personal life.
• Meetings: every meeting starts with safety and health. Include wellness in the discussion (exercise programs and diet). Make safety and health a line in the sand for the company, including employees, customers, suppliers and the community.
• Lean and 5/6S: take the time to visit your business locations and remove the clutter. Audit, inspect, communicate and expect improvement.
• Training: teach the basics of lifting, workplace ergonomics, environmental awareness, priorities of the business situation and make it personal.
• Sustainability: recycle everywhere that you can across the business – paper, plastic, coffee grounds, etc. This mentality helps to form a coalition around removing clutter, while gaining on the objective of sustaining a clean and safe work environment.
• Diversity: include nonjudgmental discussions from everyone on how they see safety and wellness. Being a driver for the need for diverse points of view provides an environment of intellectual and emotional safety.
• Customer: make safety and wellness a part of the agenda. The topic creates a personal, cultural and a business essential bond.
Personal Focus (the obvious, but often missed)
• Texting: mandate there is no texting and driving. Place the phone in the back seat and take the pledge.
• Eye protection: always wear glasses/goggles when operating any machinery, from a drill to a saw to a lawn mower.
• Hazards like water on the floor: stop and dry the floor whether at home, or in a store.
• Home: keep fire extinguishers handy and clear floors of clutter to prevent trips and falls.
• Hotels: be aware of the situation and ask for the safety checklist at the front desk.
• Public Spaces: be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you see something that doesn’t look right, report it to the proper authorities.
Creating an attitude around safety, and broadening the discussion – both professionally and personally – can change lives through prevention or simple awareness.
By creating this dialogue we are establishing a very personal and perpetual learning environment that yields higher performance.
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