How do you handle Safety in the workplace?

"I've recently read news about accidents at hotel laundries, OSHA with new standards and chemical training. Safety is foremost on my mind. How can I help my employees be more safe on the job? What recommendations do you have for safety training?" ________________________

Much like our last discussion on “Quality”, “Safety” cannot be a department or a program; but rather a CULTURE. Additionally, any culture must be based in a common language. The best safety cultures have 5 key elements:

1) Management Leadership partnered with Employee Involvement: For any culture to sustain, associates must see leadership's commitment from the top down. As that is reminded daily, the actual "program" should be managed and driven by a body of employee associates from all levels and departments; all of who have an equal voice in setting standards and addressing policies. Communication about meetings, actions and outcomes should be given to all employees regularly. Policy and expectations, as well as measurements, should be posted for all to see, and kept current on a daily basis. Some companies offer group incentives for accident free records. LIVE IT.

2) Common & Simple Language: Just like quality, a culture of safety needs key words that all associates can understand. S.A.F.E. can be acronymized using the words Safety-Attention-Focus-Education. Simply put, make safety your first cause - always. Give constant attention to your work environment. Focus on immediate correction where needed. Educate continually, your entire organization on safe work practices. LIVE IT.

3) Constant Continuing Workplace Analysis: While safety meetings tend to be reactive in nature, and certainly need to focus on known issues, it is of much more value to regularly audit each and every area of the operation (in cycle); with the entire governing group, so that all eyes can look at potential hazards. It's amazing what occurs, when an hourly associate from one department, spends a little time in another area. Think about any time a visiting GM has looked through your operation and shown you improvement opportunities that were right in front of your nose. Create this kind of environment, and your safety culture will thrive. LIVE IT.

4) Hazard Prevention & Control: Bring in outside specialists in safety, to continually update your associates and governing committee with hazard prevention practice. Find great customers who have effective safety outcomes, and bring key associates right into your meetings. Have associates visit their meetings. Lead your company to constant improvement in safety, but empower a truly open door. LIVE IT.

5) Constant Continuing Education: Never, ever stop training. ALL meetings should start with a safety quote or reading, or update. If you want to make safety it. Continually and regularly hold training and retraining meetings. Assign your more experienced workers as safety mentors to help "train up" your newer associates. Safety is more than just equipment and workplace. It’s also about personal heath, from ergonomics to water consumption, stretching, etc. There is no question that you care about the safety and health of your workers. Who doesn't? But living safely is a constant discipline, and should at the very top of leadership's responsibility. LIVE IT.

Our charge, as owners, managers and participants in this great industry is to first protect the lives of our fellow workers. Talk it. Walk it. Live it.

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