Workplace Safety – Behaviors to Prevent Injuries

Much attention has been given to the role top management must take to develop, organize,
implement and monitor a workplace safety program. After all, only management can do it
as they have the authority to direct the workforce, the resources to expend and the ability
to oversee the result. Furthermore, they have the legal and moral responsibility to
implement a workplace safety and health program due to federal regulations, namely
OSHA, and avoid the negative impact from adverse publicity due to injuries. But the real
reason to implement and maintain a workplace safety program is because it makes good
business sense.
As should be obvious, the integral parts of the equation are top management, supervisors
and non-supervisory workers. It is often said the supervisors are the key personnel in the
execution of the safety program. There is no doubt about that, as they are in a position of
authority to identify and take corrective action regarding the remediation of hazards.
Furthermore, they are charged, by position, with the enforcement of safety and health rules
to prevent workplace injuries.
Non-supervisory workers are usually expected to perform the heavy and often more
hazardous task involved with the completion of the job. Therefore, they often are at the
most risk of loss due to the hazards associated with the task at hand. Because they have a
greater probability of loss (more hazard) non-supervisory workers are the focus of the
safety education. Being the focus it is that segment of the workforce that must know and
implement the safety education that has been provided.
The goal of any safety program is to identify loss-causing elements before they cause
injury to personnel or property. Otherwise, you have a claim-handling situation.
So, the question becomes; How do we identify unsafe work practices that lead to injury
and take pre-emptive steps to prevent such an injury from occurring?
A developing sub-section of hazard analysis is to observe workers’ while in the process of
performing their task. This gives the observer, usually supervisory management, insight
into the types of hazards that can be encountered by workers. A safety observance report
is generated by supervisory management from taking time to watch and evaluate the work
of employees. The accumulation of observed data reports can then be reviewed to identify
a pattern of behaviors that may lead to injury. However, the data, if not properly
organized can be cumbersome and not deliver the best information.

Larger companies are focusing more safety department resources in this area. It begins by
educating supervisory management on the types of loss sources likely to cause injury to
the work crew. Then a scorecard is completed a various intervals that either scores the
workers as performing task safely of needing improvement. The scorecard is not just
limited to plant employees and can also be used to monitor the safety performance of plant
contractors. The data accumulation from task observance is scored as either Safe or
Unsafe. The actual scoring reviews such activities as: lifting, head exposure/protection,
Eyes and face exposure/protection, Performing Lock-outs and other safety techniques.
Then the data is entered into a central database with scanning software so management can
focus time and resources on those issues likely to cause injury due to the repetitiveness of
the unsafe task. The evaluation and action by management of the data can lead to the
implementation of control techniques that act to intervene and prevent workplace injury or
property damage. We now provide more useful feedback information to workers, so they
can utilize the observance to conduct themselves in a way as to prevent injury.
While traditional safety programs have value, new and advanced concepts need to be
implemented that utilize and master exiting technology to ensure that vital information is
processed and disseminated. There exist scanning technologies that can read characters,
which will avoid manual data entry which is a time and money saver. Also this
technology can manipulate the scanned data to arrive at inferences of what may need to be
focused on.
One such company taking a lead role in the aggregation of the data and helping
management mine that data to generate valuable insight into employee performance is ISD
Software. The developer of the software is Max Giroud who explains that this is a tool that
helps management make sense of the accumulated data. One of their clients is Kim
Brackett with Exxon/Mobil who explains, “We have been using the data sorting software
since May of 2000. It is very user friendly and the system has allowed us to track and
report back to employees and related parties the statistics that indicate potential problem
areas. We also use it to review trend data to search for specific area problems.” To validate
the results of this program, Kim Bracket explains that “we went one year without an
injury. That was a first for us and we contribute part of that success the fact that we could
sort and analyze the data from our Safety Audits.” The OSHA incident rate for the plant is
.4 and was 1.0, two years ago.