Real or Perceived, Does It Really Matter?

IMG_20150903_183104In a recent post perception was identified as an obstacle to safety in the workplace.  In particular, the mention of OSHA usually elicits a less than positive comment.  Besides general perception, employers may be concerned about expense, time, control, expertise and incentive.  These concerns are rationalizations more than real obstacles.  The Safely Working Project changes the perception by changing the focus from “Safety” to Safely Working.  It is really a simple re-orientation that can encourage an employer to embrace and make a commitment to Safely Working.

  • Control – Everyone has a role and responsibility
  • ExpertiseSensible Care is the key
  • Money – Safely Working doesn’t cost anything
  • Time – Increased productivity more than compensates
  • Incentive – Safely Working 100% of the Time, not compliance
  • Perception – Positive workplace, real, not perceived

It can be summarized this way:  “The success of a company can only be achieved through Safely Working…… because just working will not assure success.”

But, we still haven’t identified what is probably the biggest obstacle to safety a small business employer has.   Why do people (in this case, employers) rationalize?  It’s usually when the solution or answer is not easily implemented.   Put yourself in the employer, owner, CEO or boss’ chair.  You’re just getting started getting the business rolling.  Is safety part of the business plan?  You give it some thought and come up with this basic list of questions:

  • Why do it?
  • Where to start?
  • Who does it?
  • How to get it done?
  • What are the issues?
  • When is it enough?

Well, you’re doing it because you know it is one of the elements needed for a successful operation.  That takes care of the “Why.”   And the “Who,” “How,” “What,” and “When” can’t easily answered until you’ve answered “Where to start.”  That’s easy to answer, right?  Just go to OSHA.gov and click the green “START HERE” button.  What? You can’t find it?!?

The fact is, there is no such button, just a comprehensive website built around thousands of pages of regulations.  That’s the problem.  Workplace safety may not be complicated, but it is expansive.  There’s so much to do and safety depends on all of it being done all the time.  A little overwhelming.  Not unlike herding cats?  It’s a lot easier to rationalize why it’s not needed than to figure out where to start.  So, the biggest obstacle to workplace safety is figuring out where to start.

 

©2016 The Safely Working Project & P.D. Shafer III

“Safe 6” and “Safely Working” are registered trademarks of Trailmarker Ltd.
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The Safely Working Project is focused wholly on employees and their health and well-being in the workplace.  The Project promotes useful guidance that does not depend on a safety professional or staff to facilitate in the workplace.

The Safely Working Project envisions a path to workplace safety that is driven by employees and supervisors.  This is fundamentally different from the traditional Safety Program where an EHS Professional manages workplace safety.  So, instead of top down safety, Safely Working™ endeavors to succeed from the ground up. “We’re turning safety upside down.”

 

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Safety as a Forlorn Hope……

Safety BookshelfRecently, I organized my “safety” bookshelf after gathering several stacks of books scattered around my office.  I have accumulated a significant library over the years in support of my training, safety and industrial hygiene activities.  Many are recommended references and textbooks for the environmental, health and safety profession.  Click on the photo to get a closer look at the titles.

It occurred to me that my bookshelf provides additional evidence of why many managers and company owners see a barrier when it comes to safety.   I don’t mean the expense involved in buying the books.  I’m referring to the implied expertise required to find, interpret and apply the appropriate information and guidance.   It’s not unlike the perception of a “forlorn hope.”  This perception suggests that safety is not without great perseverance and incredible expense.

Are these books required for establishing and building a Safely Working™ Environment in a workplace?  Is safety really a “forlorn hope?”  Certainly not.  I’m confident many successful safety programs have been established without these books, even before the Internet existed.  A Safely Working™ Environment is more than safety, it’s how things get done.  It doesn’t take a huge budget to make it happen.

That doesn’t mean these books aren’t useful.  They’re great when you have a program already.  They are very helpful when you know what you need.   But, if you aren’t sure what you are looking for, these books can be overwhelming.  That’s why The Safely Working Project is focused on assisting employers build a Safely Working™ Environment in their place of work.

It doesn’t take books to create a Safely Working™ Environment.  It takes supervisors and employees using “Sensible Care.”  Safe 6® needs to be the one workplace rule that rules them all!   It really works when an employer is committed to Safely Working™ 100% of the Time.  It doesn’t take a technical library to do it.

 

©2015 The Safely Working Project & P.D. Shafer III

“Safe 6” and “Safely Working” are registered trademarks of Trailmarker Ltd.
∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼

The Safely Working Project is focused wholly on employees and their health and well-being in the workplace.  The Project promotes useful guidance that does not depend on a safety professional or staff to facilitate in the workplace.

The Safely Working Project envisions a path to workplace safety that is driven by employees and supervisors.  This is fundamentally different from the traditional Safety Program where an EHS Professional manages workplace safety.  So, instead of top down safety, Safely Working™ endeavors to succeed from the ground up. “We’re turning safety upside down.”

 

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Safety Stew Reheated……

IMG_20150903_183714I recently attended a luncheon featuring an attorney who discussed current Workers’ Compensation issues in our state.  The speaker was an expert and fielded lots of very specific questions.  I am always amazed how much time safety professionals spend dealing with these issues.  As I have been more involved through the years with the active ingredients in the “safety stew” I have been fortunate to avoid workers’ compensation woes.  What strikes me is that the time consumed by workers’ comp takes away time from the active ingredients that drive Safely Working.

If you are new to The Safely Working Project you may be asking what the heck is “Safety Stew?”  It is a concept we introduced here.  It occurred to me that it was time to reheat the Stew and consider whether we can turn it into Stroganoff.  Basically, “Safety Stew” is made up of active ingredients, inactive ingredients and fillers.  The active ingredients are what really makes the stew good.  If we use just the active ingredients we can make a more refined plate of stroganoff, or for our purposes Safely Working Stroganoff.  The principal active ingredients are:

  • Employer commitment – Empower supervisors and employees
  • Danger check – Recognize the dangers from activities and conditions
  • Practices and procedures – Safe 6, one rule to rule them all
  • Employee training – Skills for Safely Working
  • Supervision – Working with employees to protect their lifestyles
  • Promotion – Keep the stroganoff deliciously warm!

These are all common ingredients any workplace can produce themselves.  The fact is when Stroganoff is the main entry on the menu the need for adding fillers (like workers’ comp management) should be kept to a minimum and not dominate the dish.

For now, let’s consider employer and management commitment.  Remember, The Safely Working Project is geared toward employers that have no safety professional for whatever reason.  The Project’s mission is to provide guidance that can be simply applied and implemented by supervisors and employees.  We want to put employers in a position where there are no obstacles and no excuse for not promoting a Safely Working Environment. (See this post)  An employer who is committed to making Stroganoff and empowering employees and supervisors to be Safely Working will likely have fewer mishaps and thus less likely to have to deal with the fillers like workers’ comp to any great extent.

Something to keep in mind is that over time it’s employees that become supervisors. Many CEO’s started at the bottom.  Empowered employees will continue promoting a Safely Working Environment.  As more and more employees are given responsibility for Safely Working, the Safely Working Environment will be evident and pervasive.  That’s why we believe “Safely Working From The Ground Up!” is more effective than trickle down safety.

 

©2016 The Safely Working Project & P.D. Shafer III

“Safe 6” and “Safely Working” are registered trademarks of Trailmarker Ltd.
∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼∼

The Safely Working Project is focused wholly on employees and their health and well-being in the workplace.  The Project promotes useful guidance that does not depend on a safety professional or staff to facilitate in the workplace.

The Safely Working Project envisions a path to workplace safety that is driven by employees and supervisors.  This is fundamentally different from the traditional Safety Program where an EHS Professional manages workplace safety.  So, instead of top down safety, Safely Working™ endeavors to succeed from the ground up. “We’re turning safety upside down.”

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