Safety Survey: These Are the Top Unbreakable Tenets for Industry Safety Leaders

From the September/October GRAIN JOURNAL

Mary Carper
Corporate Safety Manager
ZFS Solutions LLC
Zeeland, MI

“New employees go through safety orientation where we teach them OSHA standards and our safety policies.

“The actual safety training happens on the job from the people who do the job. For example, they learn about lockout/tagout during their safety orientation but then learn how to actually perform the procedure by shadowing other employees. Since they have some familiarity with it due to the orientation, they are able to ask good questions when they need help.

“We convey to all new and current employees that safety is a personal responsibility. For them to handle that responsibility, we need to give them all the information necessary, train them properly, and provide them with the correct tools. However, when it comes to performing the task, the employee will make the decision if they will follow what they have been taught.

“The last and most important requirement for our employees is to listen to themselves. If they have a feeling something is off, they should stop and look into it with their supervisor and/or a safety manager. Even if they cannot identify what is wrong, their brain has detected something, and it needs to be corrected before they proceed.”

Paul E. Gooch, CSP
Safety Director
CGB Enterprises, Inc.
St. Louis, MO

“I will discuss four parts of a good safety process. First, the pre-shift meeting is a critical part of the day. During this meeting, employees discuss the work that will take place, the hazards involved, and the plan for managing those hazards to an exposure as low as reasonably possible (ALARP). During this time, management has the opportunity to set up employees for success by making sure they have the equipment and tools to complete the job, the completed paperwork for critical tasks, and a review of the hazards. These are just a few of the discussion topics during the pre-shift meeting.

“New employee training and mentoring is another key part of a good safety process. We have recently changed our new employee training by adding online training, which consists of four modules. Training starts on the first day with new employees taking training module one online at their own pace, which takes approximately two hours. After completing module one, the new employees are paired with a mentor who will show them parts of the hands-on training in the field. When new employees return to work on day two, they will complete module two and work with their mentor. New employees continue this training process until the completion of all four modules. Mentors will continue to work with the new employees until they determine the employee can complete tasks successfully without supervision. The mentoring process may take a few weeks to more than a month. And when new employees start a task they have not done beforte, we pair them with a mentor.

“Taking care of each other is the third critical part of a good safety process. We encourage employees to complete quality observations of other employees throughout the day. Once the observation is complete, then the employees discuss the observation, the parts of the operations that went well, and the parts to improve to reduce the risk ALARP. Management also completes observations of work by auditing critical tasks and completing ALARP observations asking these questions:

• Are employees following rules and procedures?

• Are employees using equipment as designed?

• Are employees using personal and others’ experiences?

• Are employees using good work practices?

• Are employees continually reassessing?

“The fourth aspect of a good safety process is housekeeping, which is a fundamental part of safety. If employees are not taking care of housekeeping, then they are probably not applying other parts of the safety process. Poor housekeeping also can lead to trip and slip hazards that are preventable. And housekeeping in the grain industry is critical in the boot pits and tunnels, because poor conditions in these areas can lead to a catastrophic event.

Remember, I’ve discussed only four aspects of a good safety process. There are many parts to a good safety process that work together to reduce risk ALARP.”

Chris Potts, CSP
Safety and Security Director
Perdue Agribusiness LLC
Salisbury, MD

“Doing pre-work risk assessments is probably the thing we work on the most. If we don’t know how to perform a task safely, we stop and determine the safest course of action. With all of the regulations we have to follow, we want to make sure we’re on top of everything. But, I think more than anything, it’s staying dedicated to a disciplined approach in everything we do.”

Derek Farmer, CSP
Director of Occupational Safety
The Scoular Company
Overland Park, KS

“One of the most important tenets we follow is to treat safety as a value. This means your team autonomously evaluates risk in the workplace while performing tasks. Safety is more than displaying a banner with a clichéd motto.

“We also believe leadership behaviors are very important. Safety training alone does not work. Leaders send messages even when they don’t mean to, so we need to ask ourselves, what message are we sending? In other words, we need to be learning behavior patterns that send a consistent nonverbal message that supports our verbal communication.

“Lastly, we follow the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time on the fatality and serious injury risk in the company and 20% of your time on the higher frequency but lower severity areas. In the past, many lagging indicator programs had safety chasing the higher probability and low severity that we spent most of our time on the wrong risk.

“The creation and belief in these principles have to be top-down initially, but the action/evidence absolutely comes from the bottom-up. When safety is a value, you don’t have to lead or push the safety effort, employees do it for you.”