Monday, January 16, 2012

Send Safety Home with Your Employees

As a manager do you encourage your employees to take personal protective equipment home for personal use?

Do you even allow it?

I beleive  that encouraging employees to use company issued PPE at home can help improve safety performance at work. It accomplishes this by helping instill a safety mindset in your employees.
Reinforce Positive Behavior

A safety conscious employee gives thought before each endeavour and considers the safety risks associated with the job. This employee breaks the job down into it's steps, identifies the hazards associated with the step, identifies the precautions to mitigate the hazard and ensures these precautions are taken before proceeding.

Consider the potential hazards associated with household tasks:
  • Lawn mowing - Hearing Damage, Eye Injury
  • Cleaning Gutters - Fall Hazard
  • Painting - Inhalation hazards

This is just a fraction of the potentially hazardous tasks your employees can perform at home. By encouraging employees to use their safety glasses or ear plugs at home your will help make safe work practices habits that they will take to work with them.

Minimize Negative Reinforcement

The flip side of the previous example is to minimize the reinforcement of negative behaviour. One of the biggest impediments to safe work practices is the confidence some employees have in their ability to perform tasks without being injured even without following safe work practices. How many electricians do you know who are comfortable working 120 V or 480 V hot, without gloves, glasses and arc resistant clothing because they have done it hundreds of times before without incident.

Every time they "get away" with doing it the wrong way, their confidence in those methods grows. Interrupt this cycle by make it easier for them to do it the "right" way whether they are working at home or at work.

Create a Safety Conscious Family Environment

My kids wont let me or my wife drive a car without a seat belt on. They start hollering the instant we try to do it. That is because riding in a vehicle with a belt on has been the only way they have ever known. They don't know that seat belts were optional when we were growing up. And we are better off for that.

Develop that same safety conscious attitude in them towards household work. If your children see you wearing safety glasses and ear plugs when mowing the lawn, they will adopt that practice when it it their turn to mow the lawn. If they see you put a lockout device on the light switch when you are changing a light ballast, they will ask you why. Explain to them that you don't want Uncle Billy to accidentally electrocute them when he stops by unexpectedly and throws the light switch. Make it easy for your employees to create a safety conscious family environment by encouraging to use their company issued PPE at home.
Guidelines and Expectations

Of course you will have to set guidelines and expectations. The expectation should be that the equipment come back to the workplace and be in good condition. Guidelines should include notification to the supervisor that they will be borrowing the equipment. A simple email to the supervisor on a Friday afternoon letting them know that the employee will be using their electrical gloves at home over the weekend protects the employee from being accused of theft and helps the employer keep up with the equipment it provides.
In the end both the employer, the employee and their family will be safer and better off.

1 comment:

  1. Workplace safety is one of the most growing issue and OSHA is taking it very seriously and is citing any violation they find, and this is what emphasizes over as safe jobs save lives.