Safety is No AccidentJune 1, 2016
When my son (my wife’s “little baby”) recently arrived home from his first year away at college, I was initially excited to learn that he had landed a summer job working at the exit end of a stamping press, packing parts.
“Great experience,” I told my wife. “Good, hard work…some sweat equity to help develop the boy’s strong work ethic.”
Sounds good…but now that he’s actually walking out the door early each morning toting his safety glasses and heavy-duty work gloves, I find myself conflicted. Don’t tell my wife this, but I’m a little (maybe more than a little) concerned for his safety. I say “conflicted” because while I know that manufacturing plants present opportunities for injuries that other workers don’t face, U.S. manufacturers have done more to improve worker safety in the last several years than at any other time in our history. The latest data I could find notes a continuing pattern of decline in nonfatal injuries and illness cases dating back to 2002.
Yet, I emphasize the importance of safety awareness to my son every single morning. Why? Because raising awareness about safety is a never-ending task. And, it’s why the U.S. National Safety Council (NSC) sponsors National Safety Month—every June.
“Safety is no accident,” is the bottom line, as noted in an NSC press release promoting National Safety Month. “It’s a choice we need to make throughout our entire lives…we’re all empowered to make safe decisions for ourselves and those we care about.”
So—I encourage you to celebrate National Safety Month at your company. The NSC website, www.nsc.org, offers several ideas and supporting materials to help.
Here’s just one example of the type of information available: an article titled, 11 Tips for Effective Workplace Housekeeping. Here you’ll find sound advice for eliminating fire hazards (“keep materials at least 18 in. away from automatic sprinklers, fire extinguishers and sprinkler controls”); and create written rules that formally specify and define housekeeping policies.
A final note about safety: The perseverance needed to develop, institute and enforce a strong safety policy requires employees that have a good work ethic, to ensure consistency and attention to detail. What character traits define a strong work ethic, the same work ethic I hope to see continue to develop in my son this summer? I found this hit list of five factors demonstrating a strong work ethic on the Houston Chronicle website:
• Integrity—Employees with integrity foster trusting relationships with customers, coworkers and supervisors. Coworkers value the employee’s ability to give honest feedback; clients trust their advice; and supervisors rely on their high moral standards.
• A strong sense of responsibility—Employees who feel personally responsible for their job performance will show up on time, put forth maximum effort and complete projects to the best of their abilities (and strive to ensure a safe workplace, for themselves and others).
• Quality—Employees with a strong work ethic care about the quality of their work.
• Discipline—Employees with good discipline stay focused on their goals and are determined to complete their assignments.
• Sense of teamwork—Most employees must work together to meet the company's objectives. Employees with a high sense of teamwork respect their peers and help where they can, making collaborations go smoother.
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