Sunday, November 27, 2011

Train Security Guards to Perform Safety Inspections

A client of ours was struggling to get their required safety inspections completed. They simply had too much work to do and not enough people in the maintenance department to get it all done. They came up with a unique solution to the problem – integrating safety device inspections into the security guards’ rounds. 

The periodic safety device inspections that the maintenance department is responsible for include:
  • Weekly eyewash safety shower testing
  • Monthly emergency light test
  • Quarterly automatic electronic defibrillator inspections
  • Monthly lighted exit sign test
  • First-aid kit inspections
  • Satellite waste collection weekly inspections
  • Monthly SPCC inspections
The client maintains a 250,000 square foot manufacturing facility. These inspections were taking over 60 man-hours per month to complete. Meanwhile, the maintenance department was being squeezed for resources. Vacant positions were not being filled; new positions were not being considered. 
At the same time, the company was putting a strong emphasis on staying compliant with regulatory inspection requirements.
This customer came up with a neat solution, by training their security guards to complete many of the safety inspection tasks and integrating the safety inspections into their security rounds.

Security Guard Rounds
As is common in many facilities, the security guards at our client’s facility perform rounds each shift. These rounds include roving the facility and verifying that all exterior doors are secure and all important offices are locked. The fact that the security guards already travel throughout the facility makes them ideal candidates for performing these inspections.
Most of the inspections listed above take about one minute per device to complete. However, the average travel time to each device is 3-5 minutes. So up to 85% of the time devoted to safety inspections is travel time to and from each device. By adding these inspections to the security guards’ rounds, the travel time is eliminated, since the guards would be traveling to these areas to perform their security functions anyway.
Buy-in from Security
Any time you shift responsibilities from one group to another, it is important to get buy-in from the folks who will be assuming the new responsibilities. Oftentimes the receiver may feel the new responsibilities are being dumped on them without consideration for the responsibilities they already have. To get buy-in from the security group, the maintenance department presented a plan that included:
  • Maintenance acknowledged that they were asking security to operate outside their traditional scope of work and expressed appreciation for security’s assistance.
  • Security would be provided with training to perform the inspection tasks.
  • Oversight for the safety inspection program would remain with the maintenance department. The purpose here was to take advantage of the elimination of travel time, not to eliminate the administrative responsibility.
  • The new responsibilities would require security to perform little to no added paperwork. The inspection results would be collected via easy-to-use “key fob” barcode scanners. 
  • The maintenance department would serve as the “sweeper” at the end of each month. They would identify the inspections that may have fallen through the cracks and commit resources to complete the inspections.
  • The two departments would meet after three months to assess the program. Assumptions made at the outset of the program (that the added responsibilities would be absorbed by security with no additional labor requirements, etc.) would be reviewed to see if they were valid or if adjustments needed to be made.
Advantages for Security
The primary advantage for the security guards was career development. Security guards would be trained in a new field, namely safety. They were receiving both training and hands-on experience in conducting a variety of OSHA- and NFPA-required safety topics. This could possibly open up career paths for them as facilities technicians, EHS technicians, or fire protection inspectors.
Another advantage for the security guards was adding variety to a job that could at times be mundane.
Inspection Selection
Selecting the right inspections for the security guards to conduct was important. Care was taken to select tasks that would minimize the labor time requirements added to the guards.
Emergency light and lighted exit sign testing were a natural fit, because most were located in areas the guards were already traveling through.

Eyewash and safety shower testing was not included, because these tests often require equipment (buckets and hoses) and time to deal with the flushed water.
AED inspections were included because they were quick and easy to do.
First-aid kit inspections were not included, because inventorying the kits could take a significant amount of time.
Dividing up the Inspections
The security guards work 12-hour shifts. Security requested that the safety inspections be assigned to the night shifts only, since the day shift spent more time each day dealing with customer requests (office lockouts, HR terminations, etc.). There are two night shifts, front-end nights and back-end nights. There are four weeks in a typical month. The list of required safety device inspections was divided into eight distinct routes:
  • Front-End Week 1
  • Back-End Week 1
  • Front-End Week 2
  • Etc.
Each shift would receive a list each week detailing which safety device inspections would be completed that week. Each list included 10-12 emergency lights, 6-8 exit signs. and 1-2 AEDs.
Short training presentations were created for each inspection task. The presentations were created in PowerPoint and included background information about what function the device that is being inspected performs, frequency of required tests, and detailed instructions with pictures showing how to perform the test. The presentations concluded with a short quiz that the employee could print out and hand in as proof that they had successfully completed the training.
The PowerPoint presentations were then published as PDF documents and posted on the company intranet site so that they were easily available to the guards day or night.

The training was self-directed. Guards were asked to complete training when it was convenient for them. This eliminated the need to schedule the off-shift guards to come in for training classes on overtime.
Managing the Inspection Completion
Small “key fob” barcode scanners were used by the security guards to track the inspection results.

Barcode labels were posted at each inspection location.

When the scanner was connected to a desktop computer at the end of the shift, the inspection results were automatically uploaded to the web application, FDP Plant. FDP Plant is an easy-to-use web application that is used to set up the inspection points, create schedules, and manage the inspection results.

At the beginning of each week, the guards receive an automatic report via email that details the inspections to be completed that week. At the end of the week they receive another report detailing which inspections were not completed, and any discrepancies found during completed inspections.


This is a unique solution to a common problem. The solution was made possible by the adaption of barcode technology to safety inspections and by the willingness of the two departments to work together.

The client is in the early stages of implementation, so we will report back with any lessons learned.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkey Frying Safety Tips

I regularly perform job safety analyses as part of my job, so when I started frying turkeys a few years ago I was very conscious of the hazards. The primary hazards are related to the 400 F oil used to fry the turkey. These include:
  • 400 F oil can burn you severely.
  • Oil can also catch fire it rolls over the side of the pot into the fire.
  • A frozen turkey dropped into hot oil will explode causing both of the above
Over the years I have come up with the following precautions to take when frying a turkey.
  1. Turkey must be fried outside.
  2. Do not fry on a deck or porch.
  3. Clear out an area to set up your fryer. Rake leaves and brush from around the fryer.
  4. Remove any trip hazards (toys, oil bottles, etc) from around the fryer. You do not want anyone tripping into the oil.
  5. Be mindful of keeping small children and dogs away from fryer. Barricade with lawn chairs if necessary.
  6. Make sure your turkey is thawed before frying.
  7. Wear long sleeve shirt.
  8. Wear leather work or gardening gloves when working near the oil (lowering the turkey in or removing from oil).
  9. Wear safety glasses whenever top is off of heated oil.
  10. Adult supervision around turkey fryer at all times while oil is heating and while oil is hot.
Be safe and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Low Cost Internet Access for Low Income Families

The FCC, along with companies like Microsoft, Best Buy and all major cable companies, are rolling out a program where low income families can get broadband internet access for $9.95 a month.

The program, which will start next summer, is available to families with children eligible for free lunches in school.

The inititive is called Connect-To-Compete, and also includes access to low cost computers.

Read the full article here.