Consulting for Small to Medium size Industrial Products companies
Safety first
by Warren Martin, Founder on October 24th, 2013

Safety First

The most important priority for any operations executive is the safety of the people that work for him/her. This blog will deal with some of the best practices and lessons that I have learned over the years.
First of all, executives often push safety programs for the wrong reasons. These may be such things as lower rates, meeting corporate targets, or staying out of trouble with regulatory bodies, among many others. The primary reason should only and always be the welfare of the employees working at the business.
Your company should set up a safety committee that meets on a monthly basis which the top executive of the business attends. There should be a structured agenda which is followed and any issues, accidents, or problems should be a priority of every attendee to clear up. If there have been accident(s) since the last meeting, the investigative report should be reviewed at the meeting and any corrective action should be agreed on and taken to prevent a reoccurrence.
Weekly “toolbox” meetings should also occur on the shop floor in each area. At these meetings, safety issues should be discussed and any employee concerns addressed. Secondly, make sure that you have in place a near miss program. Encourage all near misses to be reported so that the incident can be evaluated and corrective action and prevention measures can then be put in place. The worst thing you can do here is to put some punitive measure in place that discourages the reporting of near misses. Thirdly, make safety very visual throughout the office and shop. Employees should see constant reminders of safety practices, performance, and monitoring.
It is crucial to measure everything! As usual in business, there are world class standards that your business should be striving to achieve. Primarily, no lost time accidents! Secondly, the recordable/incident rate should be less than 2. That is, two minor incidents per 100 employees in a full year.
Celebrate when you hit milestones such as 1 year without a LTA, etc.
Finally, here are just a few things that you should look for in your safety program. Make sure that all employees wear the proper PPE. Visitors should be made aware of the safety rules before entering the plant. Subcontract workers must sign a document defining proper safety procedures when working in the plant. Material handling is often the most dangerous activity in the plant. Train personnel in proper lifting techniques. All fork truck drivers must be licensed. Inspect regularly, all chains, slings, and cranes by an outside source. Watch for all fall hazards and pinch points in the plant. Protect against any areas where an employee can become dangerously trapped. Finally, bring in an outside inspector to act as another set of eyes to look for potential safety hazards.
Finally, it is up to everyone to ensure the health and safety of his/her fellow employees. If unsafe work practices are witnessed, they should be reported to the proper authority in the plant. Workers that are habitually unsafe should be removed from the company. As an executive, make sure that it is your top priority to send your employees back home in the same condition in which they came to work!

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