None of us will ever achieve a 100% effective, all-encompassing, fool-proof safety program with total adherence.
It’s not possible.
As managers, our best shot at keeping our teams safe is to commit to progress. Our safety programs are an exercise routine, and we’re building muscle. It only works if we’re training every day, leaning into our pain points, and pushing a little bit harder week after week after week.
It’s often overwhelming, particularly for smaller shops (like Kaser) that don’t have a dedicated safety officer or compliance team. But don’t let that stop you. If you’re looking for a point of entry, start by asking yourself these three questions.
Are they wearing their PPE?
You could have gone to great lengths to outfit your team with all the personal protective equipment they need – but if they aren’t wearing it, it’s not doing them (or you) any good. Start by making sure the expectations are clear. Identify when, where, and by whom each piece of PPE must be worn. Post signs if necessary. Call people out when you see them forgetting. And most of all, lead by example. Your team won’t wear safety glasses if you don’t.
You’ll know you’re doing a good job when your employees start to remind one another about PPE. Once everyone’s invested, you’re on your way.
Are their respirators clean?
Good PPE habits are only helpful if the equipment’s in working order. Respirators in particular require constant maintenance. At Kaser, we use our Wednesday safety meeting time to disinfect respirators, replace filters, and call out team members whose facial hair has gotten too long for a good seal.
Anytime a respirator comes off of somebody’s face, it must be stowed far away from spills, dirt, and the threat of being crushed by heavy parts or equipment. Stowing your respirator in a locker keeps your filters from working overtime.
Are they aware of chemical hazards?
Unless they have a photographic memory, no one will ever be able to memorize the contents of every safety data sheet for every chemical in the facility. That’s why SDSs must be readily available to all employees at all times.
At Kaser, we upload safety data sheets to an online database that’s easily accessed via several computers and tablets sprinkled throughout the shop. Team members know to check there before interacting with new chemicals. In case of emergency, it takes no time at all to consult the data sheet and respond appropriately.
These questions will only help if you answer them honestly. Monitor your team. Find a fresh set of eyes to help you audit their performance. And once you’re able to issue yourself a passing grade in all three areas, don’t stop there – you’re only just beginning.