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K.I.S.S for Safety. Let’s Keep Safety Simple

By Darcy Cook, CSHO, SHS, PTA, Safety Trainers

Do you remember K.I.S.S? "Keep It Stupid Simple" is a design principle noted by the US Navy in 1960. The K.I.S.S principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated.

OSHA’s mission and message is simple. Your employees have a right to a safety and healthy work environment. Set up your safety and health program to decrease hazards and protect employees.  

I know safety can feel complicated and overwhelming with all of the state and federal regulations. No matter what your level of safety experience or understanding of compliance, consider the following three tips to make safety more manageable.

Start with Hazard Assessments. Hazard Assessments are the best way to begin, evaluate and improve your safety and health program.  Find the hazards and then eliminate or reduce the risk of someone being injury by that hazard.

Here are our recommendations for reducing or eliminating hazards in the workplace.

1. Ask your employees – Worker Participation

  • Do interviews. Schedule open office hours to discuss concerns by employees.

  • Use safety suggestion boxes with a specific question being asked of your employees.

  • Do morning safety briefings. Huddle with your workforce and discuss any changes.

  • Establish a safety committee and meet consistently with the same outline.

2. Do inspections on a regular basis

Things are constantly moving in a manufacturing facility. That means that new risks, exposures and near miss incidents are happening throughout the workday. Visually monitoring and inspection is the foundation to a successful near miss program. Train your employees and supervisors to always be aware of the potential risks of doing their job. Make sure they know how to report things that pose a risk or are unsafe.

  • Your Facility – Inspections

This is a great way to start or engage your safety committee. Your front-line managers and supervisors are an invaluable asset when it comes to inspections. Have employees do safety inspections of departments that they do not work in or manage. These should be focused inspections. Choose one area of concern or compliance and only inspect for those risks of noncompliance and unsafe conditions.

  • Machines & Tools

Inspecting the machines and tools help to identify defects, damage and missing guards. Reviewing documentation of a machine or tool will provide additional information like equipment repairs, routine maintenance/service, or replacements made. If changes or defects are identified with equipment, make sure you have a clear program for taking equipment out of service and for communicating between shifts and other employees impacted.

3. OSHA Training

Consider creating a safety topic for each month of the year. Have your supervisors start each shift off with a short safety briefing that incorporates the safety topic of the month. OSHA does not require your training to be in a classroom with power point. They only require it to be in a vocabulary and language understood by your employees and be "effective". Yes, some regulations dictate how often we need to provide certain training topics but the frequency for most topics only needs to be repeated after new hire if there is an observed near miss, incident,  or any changes you make to the facility, operations, job tasks, equipment or resources being used by the employee.

When you have trainings, you are giving your employees an opportunity to be involved and provide important feedback and/or solutions to reduce risk of injury or illness in the workplace.

There is always room for improvements in your safety and health management system.  Make safety part of everyone’s conversation every day.

Training Requirements in OSHA Standards

OSHA booklet on Job Hazard Assessment

OSHA Safety and Health Management System Guide

Darcy Cook is President of Safety Trainers, a division of Cook Professional Resources, Inc. (Worcester, MA). She can be reached at (508) 799-2857 or at [email protected] or www.safetytrainers.com

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