It's Time for Our Springtime Push--Get Moving!
With the hint of springtime comes a renewal of energy and a newfound determination to get ahead of all those safety job demands! We build and rebuild our "to do" lists and scrutinize each entry, trying to improve the great and bring up to compliance the not-so-great portions of our company's safety program. (Anyone who believes his program cannot be improved is sadly mistaken!)
From landscaping and heavy construction that awaken when the muddy thaw begins to increased production activities in general industry, Spring is consistently a time for increased activity, new employees, temp hire/use, and movement of equipment. Make sure your safety efforts keep up with all of the activity in other departments and that your employees are covered with adequate PPE/PPA and the training to know how and when to use it.
Springtime is also a great opportunity for updates, inspections, and change. Those mixed-weather days are great chances to pull out the gear employees stuffed away last fall and inspect each piece, discarding those needing to be tossed out. (Remember always to completely break down/destroy worn pieces or items you do not recommend using so they are not dug out of a dumpster and used by others who do not realize the damage.) Pay close attention to items that may have been carelessly put away wet and have mildewed or otherwise have been mishandled.
All too often, we think, "One more year" when a piece of PPE really needs to be tossed. Update your budgets too to reflect increased cost and the numbers of replacement items needed. I find that many safety budgets have not been increased in years because no request or justification has been made. Springtime looks ahead, and forecasting your safety budget needs is critical for the months of work to come.
Budgets Are Awakening, Too
Spring is a great time for safety to have a sit-down meeting with the bean counters, too, and make sure they know 1) why PPE items are selected, and 2) that there is more to safety efforts than costs. Include your upper management in these efforts; show them examples of good-quality PPE and the cheap stuff employees refuse to wear. Show-and-tell helps those who remotely control your money and ordering. Pull in your worker's comp numbers for reinforcement; the cost of an injury pays for a lot of training and prevention!
The first signs of Spring give us a great chance to reorder safety gear and to try new items, companies, or processes. Think about your PPE headaches of last year. . . . Ask your reps for shop samples and request constructive feedback from employees. Ask them what works and, more importantly, what they do not want to use. Most employees will tell you the truth and explain why. It may be an image or comfort item, or not knowing exactly what the item is supposed to protect. Educating them on "why safety" is the best proactive training you can provide.
Additional education is definitely needed for the springtime push. Basic training refreshers and new employee orientation are only the bare bones. Make sure the training methods fit the employee group/language to be trained and think about the location(s) and number of participants. Document it all! It may be easier to train 200 employees at one time, but chances are such a large, mixed group will not remember very much. Another real problem is that in larger groups, there are fewer questions because of employees' fear of being teased by the old-timers.
Ultimately, Spring is the chance to improve, correct what we missed last year, infuse fresh awareness, and help attain our goal of improving safety on every site. Don't forget your own continuing education needs, too. The new schedules are out; go ahead and set up refreshers and new topic training and conferences for the safety team.
Time slips by quickly in the safety world. Take time to push ahead with things that improve safety and health for your employees for the entire year ahead. It's springtime, so get out there and push safety--and yourself!