Safety Programs With Obvious Blind Spots

The following scenario always makes me scratch my head and wonder: "Why can't they see it?"  I walk onto a job site and do my “self-preservation survey,” which means identifying hazards.

The vast majority of the time it's safe to proceed. But if I see in plain view employees exposed to eye injures and I ask the company representative if the company has a written safety plan, more often than not they’ll answer “Yes.”

Again, more often than not, when I ask if they have a policy regarding eye protection, they’ll answer, “Well, yeah, in certain situations.” This is what some safety professionals call the “the dance.”

Thousands of workers suffer eye injuries every year while working. In the 2006, over 36,000 employees required time away from work due to an eye injury. In most of these incidences, simple safety glasses would have been the right measure to prevent the pain and costs at this fundamental level of employee safety.

Getting back to the title of this blog—you should be asking yourself if your safety efforts have obvious blind spots. In other words, if you are not protecting your employees with basic personal protective equipment, can you expect them to do the right thing when more advanced protection is needed? Will they give thought to fall protection or a lockout tag out or a repetitive motion situation? It’s quite often up to the individual. And quite often the company’s safety culture can make the difference. Which company would you perceive as having a stronger safety culture—one that does the basics or one that takes the "Well, yeah, in certain situations" position?

Getting your employees to work safely is no more difficult than getting them to turn out quality work in a productive fashion:

  • Set the expectation, 
  • hold them accountable, 
  • remove the barriers and 
  • communicate frequently. 

The trick is putting their safety at the same level as productivity and quality.