An Easter Egg Hunt
Yesterday was Easter Sunday. Many people across the U.S. did things with eggs. Some people gave out baskets full of chocolate eggs and colorful marshmallow chicks, also known as “Peeps”. The Gantts (of SCM) hid eggs in our yard for our grandsons to find. That’s seven-year-old Liam in the picture, having a little Easter Egg hunt with his older brother, Sammy.
An Easter egg hunt is a search for treasure, or good things so to speak. What if you held a similar kind of hunt at your workplace? Last week, we mentioned that SCM performs work place assessments. In the reports that follow, we point out where things were less than safe and offer recommendations for improvement. But what if, instead of finding what is wrong, we look around our workplaces to find what is right? Take some time to walk around and interact with employees, and you might find some things that are good and going well.
Let’s use a common finding in our assessments at work sites, especially those sites where there is a requirement for safety glasses. Not everyone wears them. But that still means some people are wearing their eye protection. Why? Why do some workers take the time to put on their safety glasses when others do not? We recommend that you talk to a few of the workers who are wearing their safety glasses. Finding out what prompts some people to take the time to don their PPE might give some insight into how to encourage others to do the same. It could mean that you provide more safety glasses, having them available at entrances for workers who forgot theirs, or issuing a second pair so that they have one pair for each of their vehicles. It might mean a number of “fixes” not discussed in this safety tip, but it can give you the information that might work to improve safety for your site.
We also frequently find that some fire extinguishers are blocked. But some are not obstructed. What makes it easy for those extinguishers to remain clear and easily accessible? Ask someone working near an accessible extinguisher how they keep it clear. What makes the difference? Interacting with those responsible for the area where the unobstructed extinguisher is could give you the information you need to keep all your extinguishers clear. Again, this may entail some things that you, as an employer, might have to do, like, for example, putting striping on the floor to mark off the area you want to keep clear. But it will improve the working conditions in the area.
Doing this hunt for good things will also have additional benefits. When you talk to someone about their safe work practices, it gives positive attention and reinforcement to those who are doing the right things. Someone noticed. They feel recognized. Recognition of employees for safe work performance is one of the requirements of the California Injury and Illness Prevention Program regulation. Workers who feel recognized and appreciated are happier workers and are often safer and productive.
Also, when workers who may not be following safe practices see the encouragement given to those who are, they may decide that they have to “step up their game,” so to speak.
Perhaps the more important benefit of this hunt for positive, safe practices is that it will give a clear picture of the support and commitment of management and supervisors to safety. By taking the time to interact with employees about how they practice safe actions, you show your interest in safety. Studies have shown that management support goes a long way in creating a safe work place.
And lastly, this may change the paradigm of how people look at safety at your organization. So often safety is a negative thing – we look at what people are doing wrong, or what they are not doing that we want them to do. Let’s turn safety into a good thing by encouraging and highlighting it.
So, turn the hazard hunt around to be a “safe practice” hunt. It will benefit the entire workplace.