Planning for Safety

Every once in a while I get someone who sends along their views and thoughts that are worth passing along. This is such a case.

It comes from Henry Reynolds who works at MEMIC as a safety management consultant with many of our manufacturing and industrial customers. Over his many years in the safety business, he tells me there is one item he stresses over others and that is individual employee responsibility. He uses this theme in his training and also in his overall evaluation of a customer’s safety culture.

Henry’s point starts with the fact that we’re always planning for different events: plan to get married, plan to buy a home, plan a vacation, plan to shop for many, many things and, last but not least, plan for retirement. A question that comes to his mind is, how much time do we plan on working in a safe manner?

Do we plan on knowing the hazards of our jobs and what we can do to prevent ourselves and our co-workers from getting injured? Do we have the right tools for the job? Are all guards in place? A job “hazard analysis” would answer all of the above questions, but a worker still needs to take it upon themselves to work in a safe manner.

According to Henry, the multinational giant Dupont has a philosophy that we are our own Safety Directors and we must believe three safety principles:

  1. All injuries and occupational illnesses can be prevented. 
  2. Each employee has the responsibility to work safely. 
  3. Each employee should ask, "What must I do to keep from being hurt and from hurting others?"

Henry’s belief is that planning to work in a safe manner is a daily commitment a worker must adopt for themselves. He sent me this poem by an unknown author which exemplifies the concept of planning for safety. Perhaps, it would also be suitable to post in a break room.

Your Best Safety Tool

It's not just the hard hat, the gear, and the glove
That bring you home safe to the people you love,
The guard on the grinder, the chain on the hose,
The safety-load binder, the foul weather clothes.
The latch on the load hook, the outrigger block,
Emergency brakes and the standard wheel chock,
The safety valve feature on high pressure tanks,
The cave in protection on vertical banks.
The well-installed belt guards, the safety toe shoes,
The fire extinguisher ready to use.
The safety belt that holds you inside of your car,
The road signs of safety wherever you are.
These things are mere tools, like a carpenter's plane,
They won't produce safety or minimize pain.
Your health and your safety depend upon you,
On whether you think about things that you do.
So think before acting, make thinking, a rule,
Make use of your brain--your best SAFETY tool.

Remember planning safety into a work day can prevent workplace injuries!