The manufacturing industry in Australia remains one of the highest risk in terms of work place hazards. And safety is a major concern for every manufacturing company, even if it’s only for legal reasons.
The majority of manufacturers willingly comply with workplace safety rules, because they consider these laws to be generally sensible. These businesses not only want to comply with WHS laws, they aim to keep their employees from getting hurt on the job. Safety may not be an area of focus, but their intentions are honourable.
The best manufacturers — those committed to excellence throughout their operations — create a culture of safety. They understand that great processes, products and people cannot co-exist with an unsafe work environment. A few companies, have used safety as a lever to drive outstanding processes.
Here are 5 steps in creating your culture of safety and excellence:
1. Foundational education
Compliance with regulatory intent – as well as the letter of the law – is entry-level safety. Free and inexpensive education is available through government agencies for all your employees. Use it.
2. Comprehensive education
Educating employees on all aspects of work-related safety – “cut away, not towards,” the value of eye-protection, and the ergonomics of reaching, sitting, and lifting – can eliminate injuries. Too often, the basics are not followed such as construction workers sawing wood or cement without protective eyewear. Responsible management wouldn’t let that happen. Wear it, or find another job.
3. Personal responsibility
Safety is a choice. Management can provide all the education and protective equipment in the world – but an employee committed to violating safety rules will do so. Every individual makes the decision to be safe, or not. Ensure anyone seen acting in an unsafe manner is taken aside, coached, and not allowed to continue that way. Don’t let anyone think you care so little about them that you would let them behave unsafely. Anyone repeatedly choosing to be unsafe is choosing a different place to work.
4. Problem solve
When accidents or near-misses occur, treat them with a disciplined approach. Identify root causes and countermeasures that prevent reoccurrence. Filing government reports is insufficient. Put as much brainpower into problem-solving safety issues as you put into quality or productivity challenges.
5. Extend the reach
Safety does not end at the gate. On a recent visit to a manufacturing plant we found management there puts as much emphasis on safety outside the facility as in it. While your employees may not need to worry about floods or hurricanes, they may face health concerns from poor diet, stress, and lack of exercise. You can help them return to work as healthy as they left through positive-lifestyle training and incentives.
Accidents happen, but an excellent company moves beyond policies and rules to create a culture of safety.