Find It – Fix It Hazard Identification!
If you don’t look you will not find it.
One winter, I visited a drilling project in a remote part of Alberta, Canada. They incorporated the concept of hazard identification into their daily routine for good reason. The weather was extreme. The conditions were harsh. The job had risk. The work was remote and there were countless challenges to overcome. On a typical winter morning, the temperature was below zero and small crews would assemble in the wilderness to operate drill rigs. As you can imagine, the work required an enormous amount of attention to insure no one got hurt.
They would start each morning with a pre-job brief to review critical steps, hazards, and controls. Pre-job briefs are not uncommon but they implemented a twist that I thought was unique. After the brief, everyone was required to go to their work area, find a hazard, and fix the hazard before they could start work. They would also record what they corrected every morning.
I liked the process: 1) The job had extreme conditions and considerable risk. 2) Injury prevention required a consistent and disciplined approach for hazard identification. 3) The foreman required EVERYONE to participate. 4) Multiple perspectives generated numerous results that improved safety. 5) The crews learned to scrutinize safety in a positive way. 6) The deliberate action elevated situational awareness. 7) They found hazards and they corrected hazards. 7) The discipline was a daily learning opportunity.
This company developed a positive way to involve employees in hazard identification. The approach was successful for this company but the key is to find the best application for your business. How can you implement the same concept in a way that has an equal impact? Follow these seven steps to incorporate a similar program at your company.
Step 1 – Require all employees to participate in hazard identification.
The program has multiple benefits but the number one goal is to get people involved. They need to own safety in their area. The value of the program extends beyond just what people find and fix. The process creates the habit to look for risk. That habit becomes a natural way the person does business. They develop ownership of their safety. That is a habit that EVERYONE should have.
Step 2 – Define how often you want people to participate.
Choose a reasonable goal that you can manage. If you say that you want people to turn in one “find it – fix it” observation a week, you have to have the capability to keep up with the process. Set goals that you can achieve. Make the expectation fit your organization.
Step 3 – Outline the process to submit the hazards they find and fix.
Create a simple form that people can use to submit ideas. Include suggestions for hazard identification and provide clear instructions for how they submit the observations.
Step 4 – Train & communicate the expectations of the program.
When you implement the program, some employees will roll their eyes and complain about one more thing they have to do. The training and communication process will establish the expectations. Explain why hazard identification is important and why you want them involved. The pitch is an easier sell when people know they can get something out of the process. Motivate people with rewards and recognition. People will also ask, “What do you want me to look for?” Prepare a top 10 list of relevant safety issues. The list will jump start the identification process.
Step 5 – Track progress and participation with the program.
This is the biggest challenge in the process. How do you keep up with the participation? Think through the details so that you do not overextend your capabilities. If you have a lot of people that participate, track the total number of cards submitted. You do not have to focus on participation from every single person. Track a percentage of participation. For example, if you have 100 people in the program and you get 75 cards, you have a 75% participation rate. Review responses to make sure people record legitimate issues.
Step 6 – Review responses and provide feedback.
A natural tendency is for people to submit observations or comments that may or may not represent a real hazard. Make an effort to evaluate the cards and follow up on legitimate safety issues. Talk to the people that submit great finds. The process will gain momentum when people know their comments make a difference.
Step 7 – Recognize and reward people that excel.
To generate interest and enthusiasm, reward people! Recognize exceptional participation. Programs die fast when there is no energy behind the process. Find small ways to motivate people and make that a critical component of your over all process.
The secret formula to great hazard identification is to find ways to engage employees in the process. 1) Establish a consistent and disciplined approach. 2) Expect EVERYONE to participate. 3) Treat the process as a learning tool. 4) Emphasize how important it is to elevate situational awareness on a daily basis. 5) Make the process valuable. Make it fun! The benefit is obvious. More involvement identifies more hazards. Fewer hazards will minimize the opportunity for injuries.