This company pushed safety training to remote locations

by on May 24, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

A southern equipment-repair company’s injury rate wasn’t where management wanted it to be.

And they had a tough safety challenge to bring that rate down: Its employees worked at client sites – and that meant they needed to spot ever-varying hazards each day at each job. Clearly, training in hazard recognition was key.

But the safety director found that workers didn’t like the safety training – they weren’t motivated.

Here are the steps he took to make safety training more attractive to workers.

  1. Smaller & shorter sessions
    Workers were dragging their heels over monthly meetings. Too routine, the safety director figured. He decided to scrap the monthly sessions.Instead, he decided to go with short, pre-work sessions. Say a two- or three-person crew was about to start a job. Their supervisor would conduct a pre-work hazard recognition session, covering individual threats they faced.

    That makes the training something the workers will immediately need, which reinforces the safety lessons.

    But he also had supervisors hold short training sessions once a week to hit a hot topic. The small group (three or four people) allowed for more give-and-take in the sessions – and there’s no place for an employee to hide when sessions are that small.

  2. Reinforced safety at payroll time
    Next, he used communication tools already in place to reinforce his safety message and help ensure both better training and reporting of injuries.He included in workers’ time sheets a “toolbox talk” worksheet covering some aspect of safety. It had a test on the back. Workers had to take the test and sign off that they’d read and understood the material.

    But he didn’t stop there. Workers had to sign off that they had not had a reportable injury in the previous week that they had not communicated to their supervisors. This meant more prompt reporting of injuries, which allowed for quicker investigations. If retraining was necessary, it could be done quickly.

    So each week, when workers filled out their time sheets, they got quick safety training and told the company they’ve reported anything necessary.

  3. Pushed text messages
    In this case, workers had cell phones because they work remotely. This safety director decided to leverage the text-messaging function.Once or twice a week, he texted them a safety message. It could be a safety quote or safety suggestion. The most recent quote: “Better 1,000 times safe than one time dead.”

    He says workers have mentioned it – he isn’t sure if they’ve received it positively or negatively, but he figured that if they’re talking about it, they’re paying attention. Any publicity was good publicity, he reasoned.

  4. 4. Fewer large sessions
    Finally, he knew that he needed to have some major training sessions – so he held them quarterly.Workers knew that if the safety director’s calling them in for a session, it’s an important subject. The sessions covered topics such as confined space hazards.

Since he’s begun this process, the safety director has seen a steady decline in injuries. But he’s not complacent – he says it’s still an everyday battle.

(Name and company withheld.)

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