How to improve safety in the shop

Fundamental measures for proactively preventing worker injuries

"At Ryder, we promote a 'Find and Fix' or 'Find and Report' philosophy," says Sunshine. "This means it is the employee's responsibility to say something when they identify an unsafe condition."

Ryder authorizes every employee to act as captain of the ship when immediate action is required to correct potentially unsafe conditions or situations and expects them to take whatever actions are required to correct these conditions or situations when there is not enough time for resolution through the normal levels of responsibility.

Ryder's Captain of the Ship policy states that all employees have the right freedom to make these decisions without fear of retribution, and management will support employees' decisions and not pressure them to take unsafe risks.

Further, the policy holds employees accountable for accidents they are involved in that occur as a result of unsafe conditions that they know about prior to the accident and that should have caused them to stop the work activity involved in the accident.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) administration - the regulatory agency for workplace safety - is "really pushing" Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (I2P2), notes J.J. Keller's Rhoden. While a rule hasn't been proposed yet, it is anticipated OSHA will require employers to implement elements such as management commitment, employee participation, hazard identification and control, training and program evaluation, with the goal of having the employer "find and fix" the hazards in the workplace, regardless of whether there is a specific OSHA standard.

The I2P2 will also likely mandate that employers establish safety committees, or an equivalent communication mechanism, conduct regular self-inspections, document accident investigations and so on. "Many companies already do these types of things, but currently there is no OSHA requirement for it, so OSHA is hoping to change that," Rhoden says.

OSHA held some stakeholder meetings on I2P2 earlier this year. Transcripts are available at

The agency is also in the process of revising its Right-To-Know (or Hazcom) Regulations. OSHA published a proposed rule in September 2009, held stakeholder meetings earlier this year and is hoping to have the final rule in place in the fall of 2011, says Rhoden.

"The revisions would drastically change the Hazcom requirements by aligning them with the GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Hazardous Chemicals)," he says. "This will result in changes to the way chemicals are classified - e.g., 'health hazard,' 'flammable liquid,' etc., as well as to the way information about the chemicals are communicated to employees.

"There will be a new labeling system that uses pictograms and signal words, along with a new format for Safety Data Sheets - formerly called Material Safety Data Sheets."

As of April 2010, OSHA now requires its compliance officers to not only check that required training has been provided, but that the training is provided in a language and vocabulary that employees understand, adds Rhoden.

5 step to increasing safety awareness in the workplace

The STOP (Safety Training Observation Program) training series from science-based products and services company DuPont provides a path to workplace safety excellence by making safe behavior and workplace conditions part of the work culture, thus preventing injuries and incidents.

The basic tool in STOP training is the STOP Safety Cycle. As described in DuPont's "Safety Currents Express" newsletter, the STOP Safety Cycle has five steps to help workers eliminate unsafe acts and unsafe conditions as they do their job.
• Decide - Before beginning any activity, decide to make safety the first priority. "When you decide to put safety first, you commit yourself to safety awareness. This is for your benefit and the benefit of others."
• Stop - Before starting an activity, come to a complete stop. "Give your full attention to the entire area, what's going on there and what you'll be doing."
• Observe - Observe for unsafe acts and unsafe conditions.
• Think - "As you think about what you've observed, consider how your safety or the safety of others will be affected by using a questioning attitude" and ask:
+ What unexpected things might happen during the job?
+ What injuries could occur if the unexpected happens?
+ How can this job be done more safely?
• "Use good judgment to answer these questions. This helps you think through the job and determine how it can be done more safely.
• Act - "Finally, act, applying good judgment to take whatever action is needed to eliminate unsafe acts and unsafe conditions."

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