Keys for developing safety judgment

by on May 15, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network
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You know that to build a safe and productive company culture, workers need to learn how to balance safety and risk.

You don’t expect workers to blindly march off a cliff, but you also expect them to handle a bump in the road. The scary part, though, is you must rely on their judgment to discern which is which.

Example: Two federal contractors were asked to get some info about a 480-volt circuit breaker in a motor control center. The workers dutifully tried to get the info, but soon realized they couldn’t get what they needed just from looking. They began to remove the breaker while the box was “live.”

An arc flash followed. Molten debris scarred one’s face and burned another’s hands. The correct procedure would have been to return to their supervisor and explain that a safety analysis was needed to remove the breaker.

Helping workers learn
So how can you shape workers’ judgment? Consider the following:

  • Set strong boundaries. Workers need to know what lies within their discretion and what’s beyond it. Working on live electrical panels without a proper safety analysis is beyond it.
  • Test workers regularly. The best way to learn the boundaries is by discussing real-world decisions that often aren’t clear cut. During training sessions, work through case studies about when they’re expected to “figure it out” and when they’re expected to step away and report back to you.
  • Recognize workers when they get it right. Thank workers who come back to you for more info. Even if the workers are wondering about a “bump” instead of a cliff, they’ve created a “teachable moment” by approaching you.

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