Search Results for: Attitude

SCnSP – Rework Your Safety Approach

♦♦  CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Feb 2018
     

Re‘-Work Your Safety Approach

Including your H&S Rep Training

Empowered Safety Rep

     

Let’s re-examine the real reason why safety is important.

We want our employees to return home to reunite with their families, every day. We want our assets and plants to remain in a safe and productive state. We want to re-use our resources and be relentless in reducing waste and effluent. Our operations need to be refined to reach the goal of reliably producing environment-friendly products.

Often, one of the causes of problems with safety is that we repeat old mistakes, over and over and over again. We need to recollect and learn from the past. One of the ways to do this is by conducting managerial reviews as part of our management system and standards.

The ‘RE‘ words

These are really important for safety because they’re action words and safety is not a once-off exercise.

RETURN  to the basics of safety.
REDISCOVER  the power of people – driven by a safety vision.
REQUEST  involvement and participation by all in safety.
REVIEW  your safety approach – reactive or proactive?
RECONSIDER  your safety recipe – approach.
RENEW  your safety systems and approach.
REFRESH  your approach – no papers, posters and pamphlets.
REINVENT  how you engage your people in safety.
REFLECT  on your attitude towards safety.
RECOGNISE  safe  behaviour and results.
REINFORCE  safe behaviour.
REWARD  Disruptive Safety[1] – better, faster, cheaper, safer.
RECHARGE  your safety efforts – our safety batteries are limited.
RETHINK  the repercussions of taking chances.
RECALL  incidents and remind employees of the consequences.
REVISE and REWRITE  your procedures to include safety.
RE-EXAMINE  what is preventing safety success.
REMOVE  causes of / reasons for unsafe behaviour.
RECTIFY  unsafe conditions promptly.
REPAIR  broken or damaged equipment or assets.
RESTORE  safety equipment and devices.
REPRIMAND  reckless behaviour.

Note

The word REACT is not in the above list because that is the most important behaviour / action to avoid in safety. A reactive approach focuses on compliance and corrective action only, rather than on prevention and doing the right things.
Also note that the words REVIEW, RECONSIDER, RENEW and REFRESH are all key to Disruptive Safety™ and that is why we have created The Safety Rep’s Survival Guide and are running in-house workshops.

Picture: Disruptive safety call to action icon

Ask yourself and your team:

Are you giving your internal customers (company employees) what they need or ordered, or are you merely flogging them stuff you think they should have or do, i.e. things they didn’t ask for, don’t understand or accept, can’t use and don’t value?

Don’t brush this off. This is a critical question if you want to get buy-in from the people you serve. It’s easy to assume that co-workers / employees don’t know what’s required in order to keep them safe. How do you know what it is that they do or don’t know if you haven’t asked them?

Listen and respect the input from those who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’. Accept their recommendations and legalise their actions = make them safe. This is where your H&S Reps play a critical role, provided they have been properly educated and empowered.

[1]   Disruptive Safety™ promotes a futuristic approach to safety which shifts the safety paradigm from ‘Preventing wrong’ to ‘Ensuring right’. Read more

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Nigel Risner, my international professional speaking colleague, who granted me permission to adapt the ‘RE’ concept for purposes of this safety tip.
[www.nigelrisner.com]

ESSENTIAL LINKS

Icon: Jurgen-Antzi with a mike

Let me help your staff reflect upon, recommit to and be responsible for championing your safety culture.

Search the S.H.E. ATM  –  for safety and wellness answers, tools and methods

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Copyright: Jürgen Tietz
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SM – Site Colonoscopy

♦♦♦    SAFETY MATTERS    ♦♦♦
     

Site Colonoscopy

When last did you conduct one?

     

Without exception, all companies have the capital E for environment in their SHE abbreviation for their safety efforts, but are they serious about the E? The E sounds good in the safety policy and looks smart on the wall, but when last did you conduct a plant colonoscopy? How frequently do you go to the backend of your process, there where the waste and effluent spew out? Normally only the janitors, cleaners and contract waste removal companies see that part of your operation. We are good at shifting the burden of looking after the environment onto someone else – let them deal with our ‘nasties’ and we merely pay the price.

Conducting a plant colonoscopy means starting at the back and looking at what and how much waste and effluent, including gaseous effluent, we generate and, particularly, at how safe and clean these handling facilities are. Often they are a real mess, because these facilities are seen as a necessary evil that we do not want to waste our money on. A colonoscopy also means flushing out the whole system by taking a good look at drains, bunds, drip trays, drain valves and pumps, filters, bins and silos. Are these fit for purpose in effectively catching or separating the waste and effluent? Look for spillages and leakages and track where these are routed to.

Do you accept waste and effluent as part of the process? How much effort is put into reducing off-cuts, run-offs and spillages, or at least collecting and reusing them in the process? We allow people to use the hose pipe to wash stuff down the drains. Do you recycle materials outside your own process? Collecting and recycling paper, plastics, glass, metal and oil is a simple matter of attitude and some bins and containers, often provided by the recycling companies.

We are all responsible for protecting the environment, not only at work, but at home as well. If you mess, you clean up. We should all re-duce, re-use, re-cycle and prevent waste and effluent in the first place.

ESSENTIAL LINKS

Icon: Jurgen-Antzi with a mike

The Safety Rep’s Survival Guide  –  what it is and why you need it

Let me help your staff reflect upon, recommit to and be responsible for championing your safety culture.

Search the S.H.E. ATM  –  for safety and wellness answers, tools and methods

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SCnSP – When is the safety battle won?

♦♦  CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Jul 2017
     

When Is The Safety Battle Won?

Engaging hearts and minds

Heart = OwnershipMind = Commitment

     

Many centuries ago, a Roman general was leading his legions towards the enemy in a swampy country. He knew that the next day’s battle would be fought on a certain plain because it was the only dry, flat place for miles. He pushed his army all night, marching them through a frightening and formidable swamp, so that they reached the battle site before the enemy and could claim the high ground.

In the aftermath of victory, the general called his troops together and asked them, “Brothers, when did we win the battle?”
One captain replied, “Sir, when the infantry attacked.”
Another said, “Sir, we won when the cavalry broke through.”
“No,” said the general. “We won the battle the night before – when our men marched through that swamp and took the high ground.” [1]

So, when is the SAFETY battle won?

Not when the rubber hits the road, or the airplane is at cruising height, or the construction is in progress, or the plant is operating on full steam. Not by analysing the statistics, reporting ‘near misses’ and investigating incidents. Not by paperwork and audits. Not by being reactive.

No … because by then it’s too late. All you can do then is police for compliance. I mean, can you imagine if the general in the above story had used that approach – having to check (audit) that his troops are actually fighting and using the correct combat tactics, rather than leading them in battle?

No. The safety battle is won long before any of the items mentioned above. It is won when we manage to get safety into the hearts and minds of all our people. It is won when we have succeeded in getting people to make safety a habit, in everything they do. Before they tackle each task, while they’re carrying out the task and after they’ve completed the task. It is won when the safety ABC is in place – individual safety Attitude, Behaviour, Choice. It is won when our people are no longer complying out of fear of being caught and disciplined or because the boss is watching. The safety battle is won when our people are thinking ‘Safety Assurance’ as part of the preparation for everything they do. It is won when individual perceptions of risk include thinking about consequences.

Finally, the safety battle is won when we all are looking at continuous improvement and best practices and sharing how to work smarter and safer. It is won when our people are not afraid of failing and treat every ‘near hit’ as an opportunity to improve productivity and safety.

Picture: Disruptive safety call to action icon

As safety professionals, we should strive to support the business by improving productivity safely!
We should be the first port of call when people are thinking of taking a shortcut or reporting a ‘near hit’ or ‘failure’. And it should be because they know and trust that we will help them do it safely, instead of blaming, and crucifying them for pushing the boundaries.
Safety Always.

[1]   Pressfield, Steven. The Warrior Ethos. Black Irish Entertainment LLC (2011). 978-1936891009.

ESSENTIAL LINKS

Icon: Jurgen-Antzi with a mike

The Safety Rep’s Survival Guide  –  what it is and why you need it

Let me help your staff reflect upon, recommit to and be responsible for championing your safety culture.

Search the S.H.E. ATM  –  for safety and wellness answers, tools and methods

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SCnSP – Ukuhlanya

♦♦♦  SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦♦

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies and the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance. It’s time to tackle the  safety dilemma / paradox  of our times with a  disruptive approach to safety.

UKUHLANYA[1]

(Safety Paradox and Disruptive Safety)

How do you review your Safety Plan?

Let me give you some essential background before I suggest the actions.

It started when I realised that, for most of our plans, it is a case of insanity i.e. doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result[2].

Expectations have changed drastically, both for employers and employees. Employers expect more skills and competencies and at the same time more engagement and contribution from employees. Employees want more freedom in how they fulfil those expectations. It’s time to “acknowledge that the old method of productivity, of being a good employee by obediently doing what you are told, is obsolete. Our job is to figure out what’s next and to bring the ideas and resources to the table to make it happen.”[3]

graphic depicting lack of einspruchsrecht i.e. consultation

In addition, people have a much shorter attention span in these times of hashtags, selfies, iPhones and iPads. We have distorted the priority scale with the habit of responding immediately to the ring / tweet / vibration of the hand-held device. We have developed an attitude of “I want it and I want it now!” and people’s behaviour has changed accordingly. People are tired of posters, pamphlets and papers. The old systems of toolbox talks, presentations and preaching procedures no longer work that well. There is a new generation of employees who demand “einspruchsrecht”[4] and full engagement.

The Safety Dilemma.

In this age of disruptive change, we have to do things better, faster, cheaper and safer or risk going out of business. We have to have people on board who think and create safety improvements. We have to let them experiment – try it, fix it and make it work. We have to make information-enabling technology available so as to free them up to do what they do best, like thinking, creating, etc. The technology must engender independence not dependence, dependence being when you get what I call the “auto pilot syndrome” = pilots who can no longer fly themselves out of an emergency.

At the same time, we want people to manage the risks and to not take chances. We want people to look-to-see and listen-to-hear. So, we have to enforce our cardinal or lifesaving rules and, in the process, pile on a myriad of procedures, instructions and standards. For example, to avoid traffic accidents, keep to the left, drive a road worthy vehicle, be a competent, licensed driver and obey the road signs are non-negotiable!

Ultimately, for most, safety becomes a compliance issue: measure injury rates, deviations from procedures, near ‘misses’, non-compliant behaviour, etc. When the fear-based compliance manifests, we are unhappy. We want people to do the right thing because it is the safe thing to do, not because they’re going to be caught and / or fined.

We want to keep it safe and simple but we still need to be in control. It is a tough balance to strike.

Control contains a peculiar paradox.
The more you impose control, the less control you have,
because it removes accountability from someone who should own the responsibility in the first place
.”[5]

The Safety Plan.

In most organizations, there is a fear of failure and thus things take too long, changes are analysed to death, projects are too intimidating and the approval levels are far too high up the hierarchy. The end result is that people get ‘busy’ with activities like meetings, investigations, proposals, etc. which do not actually produce an outcome. At the end of the day, the “big change” project on the safety plan just gets stuck – the ‘elephant’ cannot move, despite the best efforts of the ‘rider’. The ‘path’ becomes muddied.[6]

To get around this, we need to shrink the changes into smaller, bite sizes and rally the herd to drive safety forward. If we can invent, launch and complete projects in days, instead of weeks or months, its way more likely that these projects will be more relevant at the plant / team level.

If you want your employees to get enthusiastic about safety, give them something ‘they can take home’ and be proud of = something they accomplished. One hundred small projects, completed at this level, are worth much more than one big project battling to get traction.

ACTION

  • Instead of a grand revision of your safety improvement plan, go for a  Just Do Something SAFE™[7]  safety culture. Get your teams / plants to create their own safety projects. Carry out campaigns themed on “any cause, anytime, anywhere” that are safety-related, within their means and can be completed within days.
    I am not going to give you a template or a hundred examples, as that defeats the object of you owning this disruptive safety approach. I will, however, share with you a few trigger ideas: paint the workshop floor, erect a handrail, review and renew safety signs, clean out the store room, spring clean ‘my own work space’ week.
    Your challenge is to rally the herd using suitable encouragement and recognition.
  • If the above approach is too disruptive for you, then review your safety plan, but do not use the “Moses Approach”.[8]
    Consult your key stakeholders in safety, including SHE Reps, at their place of work – a kind of “Road Hear” (not “Show”) or “lekgotla”. Get them to tell you about their safety expectations, key safety issues, any quick hits and what they want to see happen. These sessions should be facilitated by a skilled, independent person and the outcome should be communicated back to all stakeholders, within a week or two.

ps. I am able and willing to facilitate either of these actions for you and to share some tools and techniques to manage the process. (T&C’S apply)

REFERENCE

[1]   “Ukuhlanya” = “insanity” in isiZulu

[2]   Albert Einstein, German physicist (1879-1955)

[3]   Seth Godin – sundry, thought-provoking posts

[4]   “Einspruchsrecht” = “the right of people to partake in decisions which affect them”, a German expression

[5]   “Beyond Management”, by Etsko Schuitema

[6]   Analogy from “Switch”, by Chip and Dan Heath

[7]   Spring-boarding on DoSomething, which is a stellar success, a fast-growing non-profit that’s engaging with millions of young people around the world.

[8]   “Moses Approach” = where leaders huddle together in the boardroom to work out the new vision, strategy, plan or some other directive, based on assumptions, and which they expect the troops to eagerly embrace without having been consulted about what is actually required.

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SCnSP – Safety and Quality

♦♦♦  SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦♦

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies and the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance.

SAFETY & QUALITY

(They go hand in hand)

Why do many companies link Safety and Quality, often co-ordinated by one department? There are a number of reasons, based on requirements / drivers that they have in common or are shared:

  • Adherence to defined and specific rules and procedures.
  • Involvement by and of everyone – the basis of efficient implementation of Safety and Quality systems.
  • Driven by a policy document developed by top management for unity of purpose and direction and audited against elaborate ISO and other international standards.
  • Need people to change their attitudes and behaviours to ensure customer needs are continually satisfied and employees are not injured or harmed.
  • Use professionals to support the business functions and many other shared factors.

But the real common denominator is ZERO = ZERO DEFECTS = ZERO HARM = ZERO TOLERANCE. I know ZERO is a hotly debated issue, but just consider the consequences if your surgeon did not have a ZERO mind-set or, for that matter, if Koeberg did not have a ZERO TOLERANCE approach!

graphic depicting common / shared requirements / drivers of safety and quality

There is also a more direct, physical link. It is, simply put, waste! Waste in all its forms: spillage and effluent, defective products, time lost being unproductive (from injuries, reworks, or time spent making defects). It is all money down the drain. Even if you can rework some of this waste, much of it still ends up on a waste dump, ultimately damaging the environment.

On top of that there is the cost of cleaning up, waste handling, attending to the injured, time taken to investigate causes of incidents and product non-conformities. You need bins and containers, fork lifts and trucks, storage areas and waste / effluent pits and enclosed spaces, plus lifting equipment, settling ponds and dumps with separation facilities.

The link to safety is the fact that to deal with waste you introduce the additional resources, equipment and facilities, with the associated new risks involved. This could be hazards like trip, slip and fall, confined spaces, working at heights and lifting equipment, especially when recycling or reworking. In order to protect against the health hazards, extensive PPE is often required.

Another direct link between Quality and Safety is created when a non-conforming part that is fitted, for example, to an aircraft could directly result in a safety disaster.

For Safety and Quality to be effective and sustained, organisations should focus on identifying the underlying causes of incidents or non-conformities and implement actions that eliminate the root causes of the non-conformities experienced.

ACTION

  • Change the Rework / Waste mind-set to ZERO WASTE. Make it a priority, like when working with extremely hazardous chemicals as in a nuclear plant.
  • Compile the real, total Cost (direct and indirect) of rework, recycling waste and waste handling activities and share with your EXCO and all employees.
  • Get the ‘Safety’ and ‘Quality’ teams together to find ways of working jointly to plan and run a ZERO TOLERANCE campaign.
  • Organise a competition to evaluate the amount identified in item #2 (Rand or tons) to encourage looking for opportunities to REDUCE – REUSE – RECYCLE

RELATED READING

“Zero Defect – Tracy Ackermann’s Plant” – from the book Life EduAction by Jürgen Tietz

Going to Waste

Fix Those Leaks

Your Paper Footprint – Environmental Murder?

RESOURCES

Moses Mudau, Head of QEHS Management at SABN
Master of Engineering (MEng), Industrial Engineering/Management

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GM – Road Safety – Year-End “Take Safety Home” Message

♦♦♦    Road Safety    ♦♦♦

Year-End Take Safety Home Message

Those of you who have been following me for some time know how passionate I am about this topic. We kill nearly ten times more people on our roads each year than ALL industrial fatalities combined in all workplaces. Chances are that if you are going to lose someone over the holiday season, it will be on the roads. This is not only via vehicle accidents – pedestrian fatalities account for approximately 40% of road-related deaths.

graphic of ambulance with money

We are able to release last year’s crime statistics in the greatest of detail so the SAPS can plan and focus on the right hot spots. But, in spite of substantial funding, the Department of Transports Road Traffic Management Corporation is unable to provide road accident statistics, because they are “reengineering the Road Traffic information collection process”. In terms of road safety, we are effectively flying blind. I cannot give you the exact figure, but I can tell you that the cost of road accidents runs into billions – we could easily build and maintain our road infrastructure if we could halve our accidents.

We all know that we cannot improve something which we are not measuring and the latest road traffic data is from 2011! We can be as concerned as we like about the current situation, but we can only influence what is within our control. Therefore, let us influence our employees to become ACTIVE SAFE road users.

There are three things which kill people on the roads ( F S D )

The first is FATIGUE. If people are tired and take their eyes off the road, the likelihood of accidents shoots up dramatically. Thus encourage the habit of taking a break and getting enough sleep before a road trip.

SPEED is the second killer. Speed reduces the opportunity to react to any unforeseen event and stay in control!

DRINKING (Drugs) is the third killer. Alcohol has a disastrous effect on your reaction time as well as staying awake and alert.

ACTION

1. Draw up your plan for the year-end now! Involve your SHE Reps in that planning – empower them to play an ACTIVE role in implementing some of the ideas below, as well as coming up with their own suggestions.
2. Road Safety Cookie
  graphic of ambulance with money This is a small hand-out to engage ALL your employees in road safety and to remind them to take a safety attitude with them when going home for the holidays.
These Road Safety Cookies™ have been specifically branded with road safety signs and the cookie inserts are road safety messages.
There are many ways to use this COOL TOOL™.
  One idea is to put the name(s) of employees killed during the year in road accidents on the back of the cookie inserts eg. + IN MEMORY OF +
I will assist you with customisation to meet your specific needs.
More ideas
on how to use the Safety Cookies here.
3. Road Safety Toolbox Talks. I am offering this series of 6 CD’s at a special discount of R2,750. These CD’s are part of my COOL TOOL™ Toolbox Talks and cover the Road Safety Topics of Seat Belts, Attitude, Road Signs, Pedestrians and vehicles – download the overview.
3. Advanced Driving Safety Rules. Get your SHE Reps to hand out a leaflet, with advanced driving tips, to everyone leaving your premises when taking their year-end break.
If you need ideas for this, send me an email.
4. Look at activities you can sponsor at schools in your neighbourhood, for example driving lessons or driving simulators for schools.

RELATED MATERIAL

A Hong Kong movie theatre asks its patrons to leave their cell phones ON when they enter the movie house. Using that, Volkswagen made an eye opening advertisement.

Have you been tagged?
Caught at a road block
Taking your eye off the ball / road / task
Walking the circle of safety
Safety misconceptions – what we can learn from them
Manslaughter or murder?

REFERENCE MATERIAL

  • RTMC latest annual report is 2012- 2013. (If you look at Section 8, in particular the part which reviews the achievement of their strategic objective “improve collection of data” on page 56, you will find that they did not achieve KPI 32 = State of Road Safety Report. The financials are in Section 9 on page 71.)
  • Arrive Alive has no up to date info either – last report is 2011.

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SCnSP – Manslaughter or Murder?

♦♦♦     SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE     ♦♦♦

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies. One of the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance is to examine our behaviour when driving and working and be ruthlessly honest about our true concern for the safety, not only of ourselves, but those around us.

Manslaughter or Murder?

I am not talking here about the Oscar Pistorius trial or pre-judging the case with a guilty or not guilty verdict.

I am talking about using a cell phone!

Talking and texting (SMS) on a cell phone, while operating a machine, plant or equipment, like cranes, trains and planes, or while driving vehicles, is a major safety hazard. Just imagine being the cause of a fatal accident as a direct result of talking or texting on a cell phone. An astute prosecuting attorney would argue that keeping your cell phone on while driving constitutes intent and that hence you would be guilty of, at least, manslaughter! This might sound harsh, but the reality is that taking your eyes off the road to look at your cell phone screen, even for a few seconds, can result in you being directly responsible for the death of another human being.

Before you read further, I strongly urge you to check out Jill Konrath’s blog and the video link in her post (see Related Reading [1] below), to see what happened to her husband, Fred, and to Dave and Leslee Henson as a direct result of a driver texting while driving. Pay particular attention to “The eye-opening facts on distracted driving“.

www.stopthetextsstopthewrecks.blogspot.com

Cell phones, as enablers of instant connection, are a communication and networking blessing, but at the same time, they are a safety curse. There is nothing so important that it justifies compromising safety. Nowadays, we behave as though the world will come to an end if we don’t immediately answer a call or read and reply to text messages! Nonsense! What happens when you take a flight? The airlines insist you switch off your phone, period. Believe me, the world goes on for the next hour or even 10 hours. Calls and messages must (and can) wait. Why not adopt the same attitude when driving or operating machinery and equipment? And talking of air planes, how safe would you feel if you knew your pilot was texting on his / her cell phone while busy landing the plane you’re traveling in?

In the quest to save time we go for multitasking, which is another issue compromising safety (see Related Reading [2] below). Texting while in meetings has become a widespread practice and is now a habit which has spilled over into driving. Furthermore, the issues arising from using cell phones are valid in any situation where people “push the buttons and use the tools”. A ringing cell phone or a text alert breaks the concentration and tempts people to take their eyes off the ball / road / process. Cell phones should be PARKED while “on the job”.

ACTION

Park the Phone Before You Drive!

  • Share this Safety Tip widely and with all your employees, especially the video in Jill Konrath’s blog. Make a copy available for your employees to take home and share with their families (contact me if you need help with this).”
  • Review your company policy for cell phone use in your operating plants and when driving vehicles. This goes also for company-issued cell phones. Become tough with people who violate your “NO CELL WHILE DRIVING / OPERATING” instruction.
  • Why not suspend the ‘licence’ for six months if anyone’s caught using a cell phone while driving / operating a company vehicle / machine or while driving on your company property. That will send a clear message that you are serious! Alternatively, send them on paid leave for a week, to do duty at the ER of a local hospital.

PLEASE drop me a line telling me what you are doing in your company so I can let Fred and Leslee know / show them the good which is coming out of their tragedy.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Heartfelt thanks go out to Fred and Leslee for going public so others might learn from their experience, and to Jill Konrath for writing on this important subject of the dangers of texting while driving.

RELATED READING

[1]   Jill Konrath: “Avoid this Killer Strategy at All Costs”   Blog   Video

[2]   Jurgen Tietz: “Do Not Disturb

[3]   “Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks

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D1STEM – How To Run An Effective Safety Meeting (Part 1)

♦ SERIES ♦    DO ONE SAFETY THING EACH MONTH    ♦ SERIES ♦

If you do just one thing a month to change the safety mind-set, in one year you will have done 12 things to raise safety awareness. Every month you will receive one such SAFETY TIP.

THIS MONTH:    How To Run An Effective Safety Meeting

(Part 1)

Analyze the action items of the last six safety meetings and table the results.

meetings, bl__dy meetings

* What type of action items have been minuted? * Are they serious safety issues or are they petty items? * Who was designated for taking action? * Were the action items resolved promptly, or are they carried over with ‘new excuses’ to the next meeting? * What do the answers to these questions tell you about attitudes towards safety?

ON OFFER

Get loads more SAFETY TIPS when you buy my KNOCK-OUT SAFETY TIPS! CD from my DIY SAFETY COOL TOOL™ range of products. More info available here.

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Your Paper Footprint – Environmental Murder?

WASTE – Trees and killing the Environment

A barrow-full of waste paper

Recently, I had to clean out the attic to make room to store some more stuff I no longer require – just in case I need it in the future. Confused? Read on …

One of the things I came across (which I added to my “rubbish to throw out” pile) was my old accounting documentation. I had a wheelbarrow full of papers, dating back more than 10 years to when I started my business. They were all neatly bundled, categorised and labeled, and, of course, buried under a ton of dust.

Apart from the schlepp to now move and get rid of all this paper, there is the BIG issue of WASTE. Why, I asked myself, had I produced and kept this paper trail for years?

The answer lies in some relic of an accounting/legal requirement that we have to make hard copies of all our transactions and keep them for 5 years, in case there is an audit by SARS. It’s not only bookkeepers, but also sales, logistics and a number of other disciplines that are stuck in this paradigm of “one original with triplicate copies” – white, pink, green and yellow – to give this waste some colour.

Please understand that I have nothing against paper (SAPPI is one of my World Class clients), bookkeepers, copier and printer companies or sales and delivery people per se. I do, in fact, understand and subscribe to efficient systems and controls to keep track of and account for money and assets. Furthermore, the world cannot function without paper for packaging, printing and books. Paper is still the #1 means for knowledge transfer and will continue to be for ages to come.

What I do have a problem with is the WASTE of resources like Time, Money, Energy, Space and also Human Resources. There is waste in producing paper we don’t need in the first place, handling it, filing it, storing it, disposing of it and, ultimately, filling up our waste dumps or having to collect and recycle it. The irony is that, in most cases, the information on the paper is transferred by data capture clerks into one or other computer system! Why not enter it directly into the system, without any paper? The legal/auditing reason I mentioned earlier is a poor excuse. Nowadays, even money-sensitive operations like SARS and banks are going more and more PAPERLESS. With the growth in EFTs, the cheque book will soon become a true museum piece. Yet, I am frequently asked to provide a “cancelled cheque” to verify my account details when completing a vendor application!

ACTION

Forget the carbon footprint for a moment and look at your PAPER FOOTPRINT. In areas under your control, like your safety systems, how much WASTE are you creating through your paper systems? All in the name of being able to have a “paper trail” which you can audit? There are tons of smarter ways to do this using technology.

Start at home, in your safety area of responsibility. As long as you have files & folders, filing cabinets and archives, monthly reports, board papers and the glossy annual reports, you leave a huge paper footprint. You are killing the environment. Incidentally, printers and copiers are paper eaters of note. If you place these devices and filing cabinets in offices, people will feel obliged to use them. Period!

You need to break the habit of “let’s make / keep a copy” by firstly changing your systems and attitude towards data capture and storage. Issue all employees with a memory stick to “take a copy” if they have to. Better still, keep documentation in a controlled network location, where access to it can be logged electronically (security feature) whilst still being accessible to those who need the information. Then, once you have proven it can be done, go to the EXCO and make a case for using this concept to drive home the issue of WASTE and actively contribute to taking care of the ENVIRONMENT.

WARNING

Watch it! If you are fuming by now, you might set all the paper around you alight. 😀 😀 😀

RELATED READING

Safety Data – a blessing or a curse?

Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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