We had an incident in which an employee got his hand stuck in a piece of equipment and was seriously injured.
As a result, we developed a process on how to use equipment properly.
We went through every job safety analysis (JSA) for every piece of equipment.
If the foreman didn’t sign off for you, you weren’t allowed to use that equipment.
We moved this method into our construction work.
We listed the tasks of the day and the hazards associated with them.
Supervisors were supposed to lead a talk based on that list before work started each day: a task hazard analysis (THA).
But we ran into a problem.
No interaction, no interest
The supervisor, or someone appointed by them, read the THA aloud with everyone else just standing there, listening.
The problem was, we were talking at people, not talking with them.
If this activity took ten minutes at the start of each workday, we calculated the time spent amounted to $240,000 each year.
These talks didn’t have value the way they were happening.
So we modified the THA process for our construction teams.
Instead, the supervisor would ask each employee on the team to talk about some hazards they faced with that day’s job.
Each employee mentioned a couple of hazards and what they’d be doing to mitigate them.
The supervisor listened to them instead of talking at them.
This wasn’t difficult to do.
When we asked for participation and they weren’t getting anything out of the talks, that was disrespectful to them.
When we changed the process, someone was now listening to the employees, showing them respect.
If the focus of a THA is filling out a form or reading something aloud, and not having a conversation, you’re wasting your time. The THA won’t accomplish its intended purpose.
Going through the motions of just having someone read the hazards aloud and then having workers sign off that they heard what was said cheapened the entire safety culture. It was just more paperwork.
With our new THA process, employees willingly participate. Those with more experience lead the way in the discussions, and the less-experienced employees soon learn that this is the norm for us.
It also prepares younger workers to feel comfortable talking in front of their peers. That sets them up for a key part of becoming a supervisor down the road: speaking to other employees.
Now we have a workforce that engaged in safety, supervisor leadership skills improved and our safety culture was enhanced in the process.
(Based on a presentation by David Murphy, VP Safety, Pepper Construction Co. of Indiana, Indianapolis, at the ASSP’s Safety21 Conference)