- Sam Palmer
August 2020 Safety Meeting Topics
Last month, I shared a lesson I learned about the difference between having a safety program and having a safety culture that is committed to a document. This month, I would like to share another lesson from another session and how I believe it can impact all of us. The session was titled “The New Hire is Missing a Leg, Do They Still Need Safety Shoes”. It discussed disabilities in the workplace and how the rules sometimes do not apply because they are outdated. This got me thinking about how sometimes, we make rules for the sake of making rules. As a safety professional, I completely understand how important some rules are. There is a reason fall protection is required and whether you are going to be at heights 10 minutes or 10 hours, a harness or some means of fall protection is most definitely necessary. If you are walking through a metal fabrication shop, whether you are the one operating a grinder or not, there is a good chance for flying debris, so you NEED those safety glasses. What I am referring to, however, is not those sorts of rules. I am referring to those arbitrary rules that were developed and implemented 30 years ago for your operation that have not been reviewed or revised since the initial penning of them.
One of the things our CEO always challenges us on is, “Are the processes we are using the best ones we could be or is there a change we can make to produce the same or better results?” or “Are we doing this because that’s the way we have always done it? Is there a better or different way?” At UBIC, we constantly look at the process to see where it can improve and where we can make changes that facilitate a positive impact. Sometimes that is changing an entire process, other times it is just tweaking one small thing that makes the process operate smoother. This should be the same in your operation. You should look at this regularly not only from a production standpoint but also from a safety standpoint. I go back to that session about the employee without a leg. 20 years ago, we did not have that many amputees in the workforce. The change between now and then, the Global War on Terror. This created a new challenge but also a new opportunity for employers to look at their rules and assess them. In this session, the presenter used the situation of a new hire losing his legs in Afghanistan. The safety director asked the question if he needed safety-toed shoes since he did not have toes. This presented an opportunity for the employer to re-visit all their safety policies to ensure they were still adequate and appropriate.
While it should not take a situation like this to trigger you to review your policies, sometimes it falls through the cracks or we just forget. Take some time this month to review your operation. Are you just doing it this way because it is the way you have always done it? Is there something you could change to make your operation more efficient or safer? Are there rules in place just for the sake of having rules or are they effective policies? If you need help determining this, please do not hesitate to reach out to your local loss control representative.