Safety Culture and Behavioral Safety

Brainstorm Your Way to Safety Awareness

To be safe, workers need to think safety in everything they do. That’s called safety awareness. Here is a technique to get them to more involved in building it.

If you’re like many safety professionals, you spend your days (and probably nights, too) working on and thinking about ways to make your workplace safer.

You diligently search for hazards on the job, inspecting facilities, machinery, and processes. You lobby management for equipment with the latest in machine guarding and other engineering controls. And you make sure workers have the best in PPE.

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Unfortunately, all of it can come to naught without one thing your workers need to develop: a sense of safety awareness.

Safety awareness means building safety into the way your workers think about things.

Without it, workers won’t wear their PPE, or won’t wear it properly. They won’t make full use of the safety features built into their equipment. And they won’t observe simple rules, such as those of good housekeeping, that can prevent accidents. In short, absent safety awareness, workers may think about production, their compensation, or tonight’s softball game—but not safety.

How do you get them to do so? Today and tomorrow, we’ll look at some ways to build that awareness, by involving the target audience in the effort. Let’s start with brainstorming.

Brainstorming is a classic idea generation technique, often used to solve problems. Members of a group are asked to toss out ideas and solutions as quickly as they come to mind, with none shot down or spoken against. The ideas are written as a list. That list is later winnowed down to the best ideas, to be acted upon.

Not long ago, some of BLR’s editorial talent did some of this kind of thinking. The result was this list (a checklist, actually) for “Instilling Safety Awareness Do’s and Don’ts.” We suggest that you try brainstorming at your next safety meeting, using our thoughts as a takeoff point with your employees, modifying or adding to these items for your specific situation.

Safety Awareness Do’s:

  • Treat safety as an important job responsibility.

  • Plan each job before you start.

  • Think about what could go wrong, and how you’ll prevent problems and accidents.

  • Use labels, MSDSs, protective clothing, and other safety information and equipment.

  • Keep your work area clear of potential fire, spill, or tripping and falling hazards.

  • Wash thoroughly before eating or drinking.

  • Check tools and equipment before you use them.

  • Select the right tool for the job.

  • Check that ventilation is working.

  • Know and follow company rules.

  • Pay attention to what you’re doing.

  • Know what to do in an emergency.

  • Ask questions when you’re unsure of what to do or how to do it.

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    Safety Awareness Don’ts:

  • Eat, drink, or smoke in the work area (not smoking at all is even better).

  • Use a malfunctioning tool or machine. Tag it and report it.

  • Work on hazardous jobs, such as tasks in confined spaces, without a buddy.

  • Ignore a safety hazard; either fix it or report it.

  • Ignore other workers’ unsafe practices; correct them or report them.

  • Let others talk you into bypassing safety procedures.

  • Take shortcuts.

  • Fool around.

  • We’re sure other professionals would be interested in what your workers add to these lists. Feel free to use the Share Your Comments button to let them know. Meanwhile, in the next Advisor, we’ll offer more tips to build safety awareness.