The Picture – Before and After

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Last week, we showed you the below picture, and asked you what you would do to fix it.

Propane tank storage


Thanks to those of who shared their thoughts. The first one that we received was from Keith. “I would look at a different way to secure them. Maybe have a metal cage/rack to store them more securely. You could, as we always like to, remind employees in training (ie newsletter, toolbox talks, etc). Signage is great, but we all become complacent over time and don’t even realize it’s there after a while. Could even look at bringing more attention to the area with paint on the ground.”

Keith, you will be glad to know that the picture, which was taken in a warehouse belonging to an SCM client, was the “before.” Below is the “after,” which shows that the client did just what you suggested and purchased a metal rack with doors to secure the cylinders. We opened the doors to take the picture.



You may have heard some of SCM’s philosophy on Safety, often called Safety II, or Safety Differently. One tenant of this view of safety is to make it easy for employees to do the right thing, and hard for them to do the wrong thing. This rack for the cylinders does exactly that. It makes it easy for the warehouse employees to properly store the cylinders, and difficult for them to ignore the signage as Keith wisely mentioned. As we see something daily, it is easy to become complacent and overlook the signage. But a storage rack with a dedicated warehouse manager will keep the cylinders in the right place.

Ernesto offered the following comment: One thing I would do is have meetings and introduce awareness of importance. There are certain tasks that do not fall on any one worker but rather a collective monitoring of the work area. Looking out for each other and building that mentality falls onto leads, assistant managers, supervisors and such. Sign awareness and correct signage certainly has its place. But let’s engage in coworker brotherhood.” 

We agree, Ernesto. And we would like to take this one step further. It does become important in having leads and managers in the process, but also get those coworkers involved. Engage the employees in solving the problem.

President Dwight Eisenhower once said that “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you are a thousand miles from the cornfield.” In other words, it is easy for supervisors and consultants to solve problems when we are not the people doing the actual work. But the farmers plowing the fields might be the ones who actually know how to do the work. The warehouse workers, Ernesto’s “brotherhood,” might have been the persons that suggested the metal rack.

Today’s safety tip is to involve the people that actually do the work in the problem-solving process. They may surprise you in coming up with solutions that make it easy to the right thing, and hard to do the wrong thing. And it will also increase the buy-in by employees into the overall process.

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