With Workers’ Memorial Day this week, now is the perfect time to talk about the meaning of workplace safety, and how we can all create a safer place to work.
In my role as CEO of The Chemours Company, nothing is more important to me than the safety of each and every one of our company’s 7,000 employees. I consistently promote my firm conviction that one injury is one too many.
I do this even in the face of some daunting numbers: According to Injury Facts, a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds. This translates into 12,300 every day and 4.5 million each year.
Along with many other companies, Chemours’ success requires some employees to work in potentially hazardous environments. So, we all need to do everything we can to make sure that our work areas, even potentially hazardous ones, are safe.
That’s where a Safety 360 degree mindset comes in. Nowhere is this mindset more important than in the workplace. Safety 360 means thinking about safety from all angles and all sides – making it not just a priority, but an obsession. It’s a mindset that ought to be front and center for all professionals charged with the responsibility of protecting their employees from harm.
Applying this mindset in the workplace can vary based on the setting. But here are some general principles:
- Safety professionals need to make sure to communicate regulations and guidelines as clearly as possible. Resist the temptation to be so exhaustive, so ostensibly thorough, that the essence of the message gets lost. Don’t major in the minors! Instead, keep your guidance as relevant and as simple as possible for people to understand and follow. Seek feedback regularly and make adjustments as needed.
- Once clear guidance has been communicated, those safety regulations and guidelines need to be followed obsessively. This includes making sure that equipment is used in ways it’s intended to be used. For example, a ladder belongs on solid, level ground. It can be tempting – especially for veteran employees – to cut corners. Maybe they’ve been doing the same thing for a long while and have become accustomed to doing it their way instead of according to procedure. But getting away with cutting corners usually requires a little luck – maybe even a lot of luck. And luck has a way of running out.
- Workers, don’t allow the routine stresses of life affect your ability to focus. Leave them at the door. Resources are available to help; ask your safety professional. This same concept applies if you are feeling ill or overly tired. Tell your supervisor. Do not take risks with your own safety or the safety of others.
- Make sure a well-stocked first aid kit is readily accessible at each worksite. Be sure to include items specific to the workplace, for example, eyewash for those who work with chemicals. And have a detailed action plan in place to address situations where something goes wrong. This includes knowing your emergency numbers and the location of nearby medical facilities.
- Finally, take charge of your own safety. At Chemours, employees have the authority to stop working if they feel unsafe. All workers everywhere should claim this same freedom. All employees ought to feel empowered to speak up if something doesn’t seem right, if instructions aren’t clear, or if they have a better, safer way of doing something.
That’s what Safety 360 is all about. And by going all in with this mindset, together we can reduce workplace deaths and injuries to zero.
Click on the image above for a message from NSC Chairman Mark Vergnano, CEO of The Chemours Company.
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