Safety is Everyone’s Job

I live in Florida. I don’t often drive in snow.

Recently, I had to make a drive through the remnants of a snowstorm. The roads were sure to be messier than normal.

A colleague of mine who has experience in such matters took time to trace the route with me. He knew the path. He knew where the turns would be more difficult. He warned me about how semi-trucks had a way of throwing up muck that would blind you. He noted that I should pay attention to local drivers and go no faster than they did. He pointed out places where there had been accidents before. He described how much time I should take to arrive on time and safe.

Fully fortified with knowledge and confidence in the plan, I made the trip safely.

The episode caused me to wonder: How well do the experienced “drivers” in our plants guide the inexperienced “drivers” in our plants?

Woodworking plants can be very risky to the uninitiated. There is a great deal of force in sawing, nailing, grinding, lifting and transporting material. The plants have pinch points and pressure points – many of them hidden from the uninformed eye.

If you haven’t worked in a plant before, those things aren’t readily apparent. Unfortunately, many of our injuries that we experience come from a new colleague discovering a new risk for the first time resulting in pain and suffering.

I hear from time to time that teaching new employees about all they need to know is HR’s job or the safety manager’s job.

Safety is everyone’s job. It will not be done unless we talk about it, teach about it, remind each other about it, hold each other accountable about it. If someone is stubborn about performing what they know to be safe, they need correction and discipline.

It costs us nothing to make safety a topic of conversation and instruction more. Not a cent. Just an effort. Everybody makes the effort – lives get enhanced and costs go down. Everyone wins.