Safety doesn’t happen by accident
How many times do we need to send a safety message before everyone remembers it? In a sales and marketing context, it takes five face-to-face meetings before you might buy something. With that in mind I sat down with our Health and Safety person and asked, “Is there a similar statistic for selling safety?” Guess what: the answer is no.
I receive safety notes all of the time, advising, “Lift with the legs and not the back.” I read them, and then file them, but after talking to our Health and Safety person I started to delve a little deeper. I am old enough to remember when safety wasn’t on most companies’ radars. People would scale industrial shelving three racks up to get a product, or stand on the back of a forklift to add sufficient counterweight so it could lift a too-heavy load. Just to be clear, I never witnessed these things during my life with Parker. But back to the question of statistics; although there is no recommended number of reminders required to make a person safe, here’s a new wrinkle: experience does not guarantee you will always remember to be safe, but a bad experience might – if you survive it.
Case in point: A customer I called on years ago – a production/maintenance manager – was 10 years my senior. During one of my visits I discovered he had been involved in an accident. It took several months for him to return to work. He did so with three fewer fingers on his left hand. I asked him what happened. “Steve,” he said, “I was adjusting this machine while it was running, and I dropped my wrench. I told myself, I can get that, so I reached in.”
It can take one moment to undo the years of hard work we do to make a work environment safe. Stay diligent about reminding people, so they can remind others. Make sure a safety culture is well established in your workplace, and read the notices that are sent out. Then take them to heart. Then, when you visit another facility, check out their “Best Practices.” There may be one you hadn’t thought of that your company could apply. And make sure to remind each other of your safety practices. Forgetting can be a life-altering mistake.
Stephen Richardson is a pneumatic product manager for Parker Canada Division. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.