Creating a Safety Culture
Kevin Gern 739
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Creating a Safety Culture

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Part I

You have decided to get your company and your employees on par with safety. Now what? This may sound like a huge uphill battle for some.  As you are reading this, some of you may be thinking “No way too hard to accomplish” or “I really don’t want to be a safety cop all the time”.  You may be surprised as to how easy it can be to start getting safety into the forefront of everyone’s mind and start creating a Safety Culture at your facility.  Start driving down EMR (Experience Modification Rate), claims expenses, and property damage and start saving more money.   

The Hard Truth about Safety 

First, let's address some quick myths about implementing safety in your facility:   

Myth: Implementing safety is too challenging. 

Truth: Implementing safety may be challenging without proper support and “buy-in” from leadership. It’s important to ensure all managers and leadership support your plans for a safer workplace.  With their buy-in to the programs you roll out, it will make implementation and creating the safety culture much easier. I can’t stress enough, safety is best implemented from the top down!  

Myth: Safety measures are expensive. 

Truth: Some elements of safety can have costs associated with them, but the alternative is significantly more costly. Medical bills, regulatory fines, repairs to equipment or property, etc..... those costs rack up more than just taking the appropriate safety precautions in the first place.   

Myth: We don’t have enough time to commit to new safety measures without losing time on daily operations. 

Truth: Taking the time is worth it and could even point out inefficiencies that could save you time or money in other areas without compromising safety.  Once you develop a safety culture at your facility, it will become less “this is what we need to do” and more “this is what we do”.   

Will implementing a safety culture be as easy as flipping a switch?  

Probably not, like any good thing, you’ll have to put a little effort into it.  But I can promise you, if you do the homework, take it seriously, and put some effort into safety, you will see the fruits of your labor. Second, let me explain some of the problems I’ve seen with the way safety can be implemented, especially in facilities that haven't prioritized safety in the past.   

Picture this: An employee has an accident resulting in a significant injury. Company leadership takes this as a “wakeup call,” but appoints the new guy (who might not have much safety experience OR seniority at the company) to oversee and uphold new safety protocols. 

Sound familiar? It’s unfortunate that it takes someone getting hurt to realize a process, system, or facility needs to be safer. And this “solution” might help some people sleep a little better at night but doesn’t help your company in the long run. 

OK, so where does creating a safety culture start?  

The short answer is that it begins at the top and it is actually very simple and inexpensive to get started.  If you’re willing to give it your best shot, I’ll share my top secrets on how to create a safety culture at your facility.  This will come with homework assignments along the way (don’t worry, they won’t be graded) so be ready to dive in and dig deep so you can see the return on investment in the future.   

Safety Culture step one will be covered in the next segment of this series, then we will continue down the path with subsequent steps to help you get your safety culture implemented and growing within your facility.   

Between now and then I have a challenge for you!  Do you accept?   

15 Minute Safety Challenge 

Walkthrough your facility with your cell phone and take pictures of items you know or feel are safety violations or issues that need to be addressed.  Try not to take any longer than 15 minutes - you're only creating a shortlist so set a timer!   

Keep it simple – use these examples while you look for violations:  

  • Loose or missing railings 
  • Employees without PPE 
  • Fire extinguishers blocked or missing 
  • Damaged extension cords 
  • Fall or trip hazards in high traffic areas or stairwells 
  • Fire exits blocked or locked 
  • Improper use of equipment 
  • General housekeeping 

By taking this safety challenge, you’re starting the process of developing strategies to make your work environment safer and more efficient. This also gives your employees peace of mind to know that they will end their shift in the same or better condition than when they started.  

Ask any safety-related questions in the comments below. We’ll see you for part two! 

Kevin Gern

Kevin Gern

Kevin Gern

Kevin Gern
Other posts by Kevin Gern

Kevin is the Director of Safety at American Rental Association. He has a background in emergency services, pharmaceutical, and biotech in addition to safety. His experience and knowledge helps rental stores make decisions on safe rental processes, rental equipment safety, and event site protection. Kevin works remotely from his home in Hershey, PA, the sweetest place on earth and home of the Hershey Bar.

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