Safety is no accident, you have to prepare for it

Accident is defined as an event that is without apparent cause or unexpected; an unlucky event, especially one causing injury or damage (The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary). ‘Unlucky’ will undoubtedly console the family of a worker killed in the workplace and explain the reasons their father or brother or sister had to die. (There are not too many managers killed in the workplace.) The term ‘accident’ is an unfortunate one as it conveys an acceptance of the unnecessary. We are used to referring to crashes on our roads and highways as ‘accidents’. They are not accidents. They have causes: incompetence, ignorance or lost focus – not being present in the moment. “We’re terribly sorry you have lost an eye, but it was only an accident.” As if ‘accident’ excuses the maiming for life or the death. No one need be killed or injured at work and when they are, there is always a reason. Always. Unintentional happenings are also described as accidents. So what is your intention when you deliberately choose not to replace unsafe equipment or deliberately choose not to follow a safety procedure? Is it to take a chance with somebody else’s life or even your own? Here is a checklist for managers who believe that death and injury in the workplace are preventable. • Identify the requirements for safety training. • Check where safety rates as a priority in the minds and actions of you and your work group. What is the safety culture like within your team? • Discuss the attitudes within the team towards safety, accidents, death and injury. • Ensure regular, ‘hands on’ safety training of all team members. • Evaluate the effectiveness of the training in terms of what people think and do in relation to safety, i.e. check that people are applying the safety training in the workplace. • Keep safety as a constant focus in the minds of your work group. • Conduct regular ‘toolbox’ safety training. • Ensure all hazardous areas and equipment are clearly marked. • Ensure safe operating procedures are clearly visible and followed. • Encourage your people to report anything to you which they perceive to be unsafe. Ensure that workers believe that they can report concerns without fear of consequences. • Check what pressure is placed on people to ignore safe limits and safe practices. • Ensure all new operators undergo safety training before commencing work. • Check that all staff are informed of and understand safety procedures. • Instil an attitude within your team that accidents don’t just happen, that there is always a reason and that all accidents are preventable if we are focused and aware. • Check that all legislative and company safety requirements are met on site. • Act immediately on unsafe practices – never tolerate non-compliance with safe working practices. • Regularly check potential safety hazards. • Act on workers’ complaints and concerns immediately or as soon as possible. Otherwise they won’t bother. • Encourage workers to take responsibility for the safety of themselves and their own workmates. • Remind workers that not one casualty believed that they would be injured or killed that day. • Investigate incidents to establish causes and implement the necessary changes. • Conduct regular safety audits to identify safety hazards and unsafe practices. These articles are from the international best-selling books, ‘You Lead, They’ll Follow. How to inspire, lead and manage people. Really.’ Volumes 1, 2 and 3 by Daniel Kehoe published by McGraw Hill. Daniel Kehoe provides a range of tools for leadership, people management and business improvement to small, medium and large organizations including the You Lead, They’ll Follow Experience® and Systematic-Innovation® - one of the best ideas management systems on the planet. See T 08 9477 1135 E

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