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Webinar - Safety Pre-Inspections: Why They're Important

ByBryan McWhorter | Published: March 21, 2017
Presented by Nektar Data Systems
Key Takeaways

Even when safety inspections are not required, we highly recommend them for many reasons.

Jamie: Today we’re presenting Safety Pre-Inspections: Why They’re Important. The webinar is made possible by our friends at Nektar Data Systems and is hosted by Safeopedia. Today’s presentation will be presented by Bryan McWhorter.

At Safeopedia, it’s our goal to support those EHS professionals, the operational folks, and really any safety-minded individuals, through free educational content and resources. We would really like to thank those dedicated professionals for the great work they do on a daily basis.

It will be my pleasure to introduce you, Bryan McWhorter. Bryan is a productivity expert and safety professional with numerous years’ experience driving and teaching safety, leadership, and productivity tools. He gained his knowledge and experience as a safety officer and senior trainer for Phillips at the largest lighting factory in the world. He’s authored eight books in the productivity, lean thinking, and safety spaces.

And we’d really like to thank our partners over at Nektar Data Systems for making this webinar possible. Nektar is the leader in mobile data collection for asset clarity and asset life cycle management in the construction, transportation, utility, and service industries.

With that, Bryan, please take it away.

Bryan: Thank you, Jamie. I want to thank everyone for tuning in today. This is a really good topic, and I know how valuable everybody’s time is, so we’ll try and keep it flowing, and hopefully give you some really good information today. Again, our topic is safety pre-inspections, why they’re important. What we’ll cover in the presentation today is—we’ll look at, “What are safety pre-inspections? Why are they important?” how to create them, we’ll give you some resources, and then, as Jamie mentioned, at the end, I’ll gladly answer any questions we have.

What are safety pre-inspections or pre-safety inspections? Any structured safety inspection performed prior to work being done. These follow a simple checksheet format. We’re looking to identify any hazards or safety concerns prior to doing work, and if you look at the seatbelt there, we’re kind of used to doing this in our private lives, so it makes sense to us. When we get into a car, especially if it’s one we haven’t driven before, we naturally fasten our seatbelt. We look at the rear-view mirrors. We check out the dashboard, the check engine light, and all those things. So, it makes sense to us. It’s somewhat intuitive. But in a work environment where we’re more performance-oriented, we want to make sure that we have some type of safety inspection going on.

As humans, we are extremely benefit-oriented. We rarely do anything if we don’t see a benefit to us. You’ve probably heard our favorite radio station is WIFM—“What’s in it for me?” When rolling out safety pre-inspections, or any initiative, to a workforce, it’s very important to focus on the benefits.

So, what are the benefits associated with safety pre-inspections? Well, for one thing, they reinforce our commitment to safety. It’s a way to take a very pragmatic approach to what we’re doing. It’s no longer just talk. We’re going to actually put it into action. It provides practical training and safety awareness.

As we get these pre-inspections set up, we expect people that do the work to be involved in it, so again, it’s another way to walk the talk, good practical training. It helps identify hazards in the workplace. Again, as I mentioned, it’s that pragmatic approach. I often say safety is either proactive, or it’s inactive. We have to find a way to weave safety into all that we do. Safety checksheets and pre-inspections are a great way to do that.

Inspections provide a framework involving employees at all levels in the workplace. In regards to safety, this is so important. We want a safety culture in any work environment. We want professionals to think safely, so safety should be a part of what they do at all levels. It can create a safety baseline for equipment, tools, and environments. One of the things that I’ll talk to you about throughout this webinar is that we’re creating documentation and a baseline that we can use to identify trends and patterns, to help improve safety. That goes to that last bullet point. It provides documentation history for safety compliance and liability. Where employees are responsible for safety, safety inspections and checksheets are often needed to show that we are doing what we need to be to stay compliant, so that safety inspection checklist is very important.

Let’s look at a quick case study, going back to October 30th of 1935. The first B-17 bomber crashed on its second evaluation flight, killing the test pilot and one Boeing employee. There were actually five people on the plane, and before takeoff, they forgot to remove the gust locks. With the gust locks in place, the plane couldn’t go into level flight. Long story made short, this plane was a much more complex aircraft than any of them that had been created before it, and because of that simple mistake—there was just much more to look at before getting the plane into the air—two people lost their lives. There were actually five on board. And the plane crashed.

After this incident, the pre-flight checklist was created. I’ll go back to aviation a few times throughout this presentation, because they’re going to be kind of our benchmark for checklists, for pre-safety inspections. There was a book that came out, I believe, in the late 1990s, called The Checklist Manifesto, and it talked about the importance of using simple checksheets to drive safety in almost any field. The book was written by a surgeon, and he found that, by using simple checksheets, checklists, in hospitals, they were able to save a lot of lives. These were issues where just simple things were not being done, because they were being overlooked. In the book, there are a couple philosophers that talked about—in the 1970s, they were trying to determine why people fail at things, and they came up with two major causes for failure. The first one is lack of knowledge, which makes sense. We fail at something if we are missing some information, if we don’t understand it. But that second one is ineptitude, a lack of skill or ability.

If you look at just the history of almost everything from medical to mechanical to anything that we deal with in environment, we kind of went from number one to number two. We went from ignorance to ineptitude. If you’ve ever heard of the phrase “data-rich and information-poor,” what it means is we have more information than we can really accurately hone down and use. Our world is getting more and more complex, so we need ways to simplify what we do and how we do it. When we have tons of information out there, how do we find the information that we need to guide us at the activities and make us successful at what we’re doing? Checklists are a very simple way of doing that. We do the work up front, create a simple checklist, then make sure that what needs to happen does happen.

There are three different perspectives we’re going to look at today for creating that pre-safety inspection. The first one is looking at it from the perspective of inspections for jobs and tasks. Now, we want to take special considerations for when a job requires more knowledge or goes into a safety program, such as lockout-tagout, hot work permits, confined spaces, air quality, and I’ll talk a little bit more about these later in the presentation.

A second perspective is looking at it from the standpoint of equipment and tools. And there are certain hazards inherent with different pieces of equipment. You look at all the heavy equipment there that just showed up on the slide. Usually, one of the largest causes of death in a work environment, usually, in the one or two spot, is some type of vehicle. When we’re dealing with forklifts or front end loaders or things of this nature, again, the hazards are such where pre-inspection is extremely important. The last is looking at the work environment itself.

If we go back to aviation as our benchmark, we see that they do all three of these. They’ve looked at the jobs or tasks, work being done, the flying, the landings and handling the plane, the equipment, the pre-flight checklist for the plane itself, and then for the environment. Again, if we look at aviation, before any plane takes off, the pilot and crew have done a pre-flight checklist. All the instructions that that pilot is going to follow are standardized. If a pilot is landing a plane in Paris, Texas or Paris, France, they’re going to follow the same standardization in terms of guidelines for flying altitudes and landing, instructions from the tower—everything is standardized. Even emergency procedures—when Captain Sully had to land his plane in the Hudson River after bird strikes took out both engines, it was interesting when I watched interviews with him. Usually, one of the questions that’s always asked to him is, “Were you afraid when that happened?” His answer is always, “I didn’t have time to be afraid. I was following our procedures. We had trained for this scenario.” So, as he was controlling the plane, his co-pilot read the checksheet, basically a book with the emergency procedures for when you lose both engines, and they were following in checksheet formation, “Turn on this. Turn off that. Follow the procedure.” So, we want to follow suit.

For our first inspections, let’s look at it from the perspective of job or task. We want to capture, in your work environment, all the work that’s done daily, weekly, monthly. Maybe it’s a task that’s only done once a year. We want all those tasks captured, and we want to do hazard assessments on them and identify any potential hazards and make sure control measures are actually put in place. A good way to do this—one is job shadowing. Remember, when we’re working, we’re performance-oriented, so if you have someone who’s working in a factory or on a construction site, their main thoughts are just getting the work done. So, really, we need someone following them or looking at the tasks who is safety-minded. Their whole perspective is on safety.

Another great tool to capture hazard is using a simple flowchart. I’ve used these in a lot of different environments, and you just have the workers capture all the different activities, and again, capture the hazards, and put control measures in place. Use these as living documents. If you have large areas with lots of different workers, maybe someone forgot something on the flowchart, and another worker will capture it. So, again, we’re looking for those hazards, and we’re putting control measures in place.

Once that’s done, again, we want to look at special considerations, like I mentioned earlier. If, as part of the work, we get into scenarios where they have to use lockout-tagout, confined space, hot work permits, these are programs that require intensified training, and we want to make sure those programs are in place. I’ve worked in environments where maybe a worker, once a year, has to get into a confined space. Now they have to pull out the documentation to make sure that everyone is trained for confined space work. Part of what we would do is contact our local fire department and let them know that we have confined space work that we’re going to be doing at 12 o’clock on this day. We do the air quality tests. We do everything we can to make sure that people are safe. We follow our procedures for confined space. You want to capture all those, to make sure that you have them, again, as part of the hazard control measures for that work.

Then you create your pre-work safety checklist. This is a simple checklist where it only takes a few minutes, but they identify the hazards and make sure that those control measures are actually in place, in regard to the work being done. Now, we need document control because, again, any document that we’re using, we want to make sure that it’s up to date and it’s accurate. After all this is done, we want to train the employees on how to use the checksheet and make sure that, again, the documentation is controlled.

What we’re doing is, we’re connecting the dots between hazard assessments and how we do our daily work. This is weaving safety into what we do and how we do it. Let’s move on to that second one. This is inspections for equipment and tools. The first step is really just to look at what the manufacturer’s guidelines are. For any equipment being made, from a ladder to a front-end loader, the manufacturer can provide you with the safety inspection checksheets that you need to follow. These are your first resource. Second is doing an equipment hazard assessment. These need to be done on a regular basis, anyway. What you’re doing is making sure that nothing has been changed, or that a hazard hasn’t been introduced, and that control measures are actually there as specified. Then you create your checklist, and again, this is something that an operator would use prior to using the equipment. Say, on a power drill, it might be just looking at the cord and making sure that there are no shiny metal parts showing, any wires, things of this nature. Again, this is very intuitive and makes common sense, but like with landing that plane on the Hudson, we want to make sure that everything that needs to be done is done. It is a deal of, not lack of knowledge, but that second bullet point of ineptitude. We want to make sure that we do everything we need to do.

The last bullet for all these is going to be document control, filing, training, things along this nature. For all these checksheets, again, we want to collect this information. For one thing, we want to verify that we’re doing safety inspections, and we want to analyze it for trends. We want to train the employees on it and use this as we move forward to, again, weave safety into what we do. The last one is inspections of the work environment. We’ve already looked at the work being done. We’ve looked at tools and equipment. Now let’s look at the environment and make sure there are no hazards in it. We’re going to conduct a hazard assessment of the work area, establish control measures as needed, and in environments where people are working regularly—it could be in a restaurant, in a kitchen, a factory work area, whatever—we want to set up a safe environment that’s normal, and a great tool to do that is 5S + 1. 5S + 1—one of the five S’s is safety, and you’re just looking to put control measures in place. The whole purpose of 5S is to identify abnormalities, to identify problems. That is the only reason we implement 5S. It’s not to make things look nice and clean and shiny, but to show a problem.

If you have, like in the picture here, a hot source near compressed gas, it’s pretty easy to see this is a hazard that’s been created. With your 5S + 1, what you want to do is make sure that, again, your environment has no hazards to begin with, and that the work you’re about to do doesn’t create a hazard. We’re making sure everything is safe before we start doing our work, and that it stays that way. Your documentation—make sure that the environment is clear of anything from trip hazards to low-hanging things you can bump your head on to whatever, and we have checksheets in place to make sure that it stays that way that people will look at, say, at the beginning or the end of a shift. Nothing has been introduced.

Once all of that is done, it’s just training, letting people know, “Here’s a hazard. Here’s a control measure. Here’s the checksheet to make sure that these control measures stay in place.” We want to keep people safe. That’s covering all three. When we’re doing this, it’s important to remember the purpose, because we can get kind of lost in all the red tape of doing all these things. Employers are responsible for worker safety, and no one should have to risk injury just to earn a paycheck. I’ve been very fortunate in getting the opportunity to talk to a lot of managers and people in different work environments who showed that they really do care about the workers. When we’re going after certifications and compliance, it’s to keep people safe. I have friends who are OSHA auditors, and they don’t like writing fines. They would rather see people be compliant. There are many ways that the government can take our money, and fines shouldn’t be one of them. We want workers to be safe.

Certifications for safety are a great way to keep you compliant. There are certifications for safety for types of work you do. I would really recommend you actually look into them. For one thing, they’ll give you a framework to follow, which will usually keep you compliant with any government regulatory agency. They give you a structure to follow. When I was with Phillips, we became OHSAS 18001 certified, and it enhanced and improved our safety programs tremendously. It really upped our confidence level in keeping us compliant.

Another little bonus tip I will give you—this webinar is on pre-inspection checksheets, so following the steps that I outline for you and creating checklists, but another great thing to do is do a checksheet after the work is done. It’s going to be a simple logbook or checksheet, but after a shift, after work is done, writing down any problems that have been identified, or potential hazards. If you want to have a little bit of fun today, and want to get a good laugh, go to Google and just type in UPS pilot gripe sheet. This is actually, in my understanding, a compilation from different airlines. But the gripe sheet with the UPS was, when a pilot came across a problem from flying a plane, he’d write it down on this gripe sheet, and it would give the mechanic something to go by, and the mechanics would then write their correction and initial it. I think one of the gripes that was written down was—a pilot had written, “Something is loose in cockpit,” and the mechanic had written, “Something is tightened in cockpit,” so they definitely have their sense of humor. But to go back to—after the work is done, using a logbook or checksheet is also a great way to really enhance safety.

Let’s look at our resources. As this is ongoing, we always want to be making sure that we’re up to date on the best materials to keep people safe. Use the environmental health and safety governing agencies. Go to OSHA’s website. There’s lots of great information. You can find answers for almost any one of your questions. You really need to make sure you’re compliant with the type of work and equipment and environment you’re working with, anyway. The best resources are the agencies themselves.

Manufacturers, when it comes to tools and equipment, as I mentioned, the manufacturers know the control measures they created to protect people from potential hazards of using their equipment, so use the guidelines from the manufacturers. Material safety data sheets—any material you’re using in your work environment, you need to have the material safety data sheet on hand, anyway. When it specifies that certain PPE or control measures need to be used, that should be part of that checksheet, making sure that people are using rubber gloves for certain chemicals or goggles or whatever is required.

Safeopedia was created for this purpose—to be one of your safety resources—so look for topics that concern you on Safeopedia. Often, you’ll find a short article or questions already answered there. And if not, send us your questions. We’re glad to answer them. Look for software on mobile devices. Everything we’ve talked about today is very mobile-device-friendly. When you’re talking about creating checklists, software lends itself to this very well, in that you can create a checklist that someone can easily run through, have it to where you can’t send it off until it’s filled out, they can attach pictures to it, and with cloud storage now, it’s very easy to save and very easy to pull up trends. Have this stuff where it calculates for you and helps show you your baseline and what’s going on.

The last resource is safety network. I want to look a little bit deeper on this one, because it’s so powerful. There’s no reason for any of us, as safety professionals, to work in a vacuum. Reach out to people who are safety professionals that you know. There’s something amazing about being in safety, in that we all value safety. We all want to help keep people safe. This is very unique. If we were engineers, we’d tend to be—engineers are more proprietary, or mechanics. We want to be the best at what we do, so we might hold back information. But I’ve never seen that with a safety professional. When people contacted me when I was with Phillips, I was glad to share my best practices and information. I’ve reached out to many safety professionals in our town and learned a lot of great things from them. Best practice sharing with local professionals in your area is a great resource. Reach out to one another, again, using Safeopedia. That’s why they were created.

With that, we covered a lot of information, but I think I hit the main high points that are needed, and hopefully gave you some good resources. With that, I’ll gladly take any questions you have.

Jamie: That’s great. Thank you, Bryan. Yeah, we have a few questions that have come in. The first question here is, “Why do you think construction and manufacturing seem to lag behind the aviation industry?”

Bryan: I think, with aviation, it’s for a couple reasons. One, if a plane crashes, everybody hears about it, and the magnitude and scope of the needs for safety with it—for instance, right now, there are about 5,000 planes in the sky in the U.S. alone. When you’re in basically a pressurized metal tube thousands of feet in the air, shooting across the sky at 500 miles an hour, you’d better have some pretty good safety in place. The last thing I want to think about is the copilot looking over at the pilot and going, “Gee, I’ve never seen this before. What do you think we should do?” By the nature of the beast, we have a really good scale of safety. I think that’s the real reason.

Now for construction and factories, and for everyone else, what we need to do is copy their best practices. Look at the environment, the equipment, and putting good standardization in place. It’s not really hard to do, as much as we need to just give it the attention and take the time to do it.

Jamie: Do you think there’s a level of complacency, maybe? I know you had a video that talks about, “Why do workers take risks?” “It’s not going to happen to me. I’ve done this job a thousand times”—do you think that plays along with it? "I agree—hurtling through the air 30,000 feet up at 500 miles an hour is dangerous. But I’ve run this ‘dozer a thousand times, a thousand days in a row."

Bryan: Absolutely, absolutely. Often, we’ll see the senior workers making the mistakes for that very reason. Any time we do something unsafe—work with a machine with the guard off, or stand on the forks of a forklift, or something—and get away with it, then it normalizes the behavior. And you hit the nail on the head with the word “complacency.” Complacency slips in so easily. This is where, again, safety is proactive, or it’s inactive.

I have a friend who is a project manager, and he drove some really huge projects. We had—based on this training that I presented today, we did in one of our factories—and what they started doing is, they began every day with a safety talk, just reminding people that we don’t—8 hours from now, when we’re wrapping things up, we want zero injuries. From the time they started doing that, for, I think, the year that he was the manager there, over their maintenance program, they had zero accidents. They followed the checklists. They really focused on safety. That complacency is a big deal, definitely.

Jamie: Thanks, Bryan. Another question here from Ryan. He’s asking, “You mentioned pre- and post-safety inspections, but what about times such as after lunch, during a break—almost like a mid-trip inspection?”

Bryan: Oh, what a great question, because that’s right. Your inspection or checksheet is setting the tone. What do you do when you take a break and you come back? This is where your culture is so important. I’ve seen a lot of groups in construction and safety do a lot to—everything from a supervisor or foreman reminding people, “OK, let’s get out there, but safety’s still first.” This is what I mean by proactive or inactive. Some energy or focus has to be given to safety almost always before starting work, or it’s very easy to take a back seat to performance. Remember, we’re there to get work done. We’re there to get a job done, and no one wants to be the worker to say, “You know what? We fell behind,” or “I couldn’t do it.” So, if safety isn’t pushed or elevated, it’s going to fall into the backseat very easily.

Jamie: It dovetails into this question, “How can you incentivize or ‘remind’ the workforce to do this consistently?” How do you get over that complacency?

Bryan: That’s another great question. We did a lot of things along these lines to help in some of the different environments I’ve been in. We always kept a strong media blitz when it came to safety, to keep at the forefront. In terms of incentivizing, one of the things that we did was played on people’s pride—I want to say ego, but ego is a negative connotation. But we really connected the dots that “We’re professionals. Professionals work safe.” A shade-tree mechanic might bust his knuckles, but a good mechanic who’s professional knows the right tools to use so he doesn’t bust his knuckles. We played on that quite a bit. We really encouraged people to where, if you’re a front-end loader, or you’re a carpenter, you know your work, and you work safe. This is something that marks your professionalism. We really encourage that as much as we possibly could. We looked for those three leading indicators of accidents, which are shortcuts, snap decisions, and complacency.

Really, you can put up posters, create T-shirts, make newsletters—these things tend to blend in, so you need to change them up often. But it goes back to that statement, again, of “Safety is proactive or it’s inactive.” Another incentive is to make sure that you reward people. Pat them on the back. Recognize that, “Hey, you know what, Bill, I noticed in the last 6 months,” or the last year, “you’ve always worn your PPE. You’ve always done this.” Recognize good behavior and thank people for acting professional. Thank them for being great role models. These are things that we want to know that people are noticing. Who doesn’t like being a good role model?

Jamie: That’s for sure. We have a question here from Andrew—“Great point for those large, high-impact hazards. How can pre-inspections help with, say, musculoskeletal injuries”—thank you, Andrew, for trying to trip me up with that word there—“musculoskeletal injuries, slips, trips, etc.” Great question.

Bryan: The approach that we use today is a very, very simple approach. It’s looking at the three different perspectives. You’re looking at the work being done. You’re looking at the task. This would also take into account the person doing it. Say, if I’m working with individuals in a rehab center, it’s going to be a different type task than working with a bunch of accountants in an office. You take those things into account, but you’re also looking at environment. This is where I’m a big fan of 5S + 1. You create an environment checksheet that people follow at the beginning and the end of a shift, and I literally had those things on our checksheets. Are there trip hazards? So, they look on the floor and make sure that someone didn’t string a cord across, which, during the summer, in different environments, happened often, just from fans being placed out. You’re looking out for anything from pallets being set down to drawers being left open. All these things can be captured, but you need to make it unique to your area. That’s where capturing those hazards to begin with—my advice is, be really thorough with your hazard assessment and really simple with your checksheet.

Jamie: We had a question come in, and you mentioned it here. It says, “On one slide, you mentioned 5S + 1. What is this? Do you have any information or resources on that?”

Bryan: Yes, great question. I’m glad you asked. I was hoping that I didn’t trip too many people up. If you’re familiar with lean at all, 5S + 1 is just five words that are along the lines of sort—man, I knew someone was going to ask me this—sort out, shine, set, standardize, and sustain. Safety fits into really all of them. But what I would suggest, rather than me spend a lot of time explaining it, just Google "5S + 1" and you’ll find lots of great information on it. I actually wrote a book on it, so you can find my book off Amazon. It’s always good to plug the books. But for keeping an environment safe, 5S is a fantastic tool. It’s really fairly easy to implement and use, and it will help keep that sustainment of safety, because that’s what it was really designed for.

Jamie: Here’s a question from Dan. "Can you discuss some of the liabilities of not doing a pre-use inspection, so having a piece of equipment fail and a worker getting injured? Please discuss worker responsibilities and employer responsibilities."

Bryan: Absolutely. Here’s the word that nobody likes hearing. When it comes to liability and proactive versus inactive, when we know something needs to be done and we’re not doing it, that word we don’t like hearing is “negligence,” so yes, it definitely falls on the employer. Part of the responsibility of the employer is to provide a safe work environment. This means that OSHA or the governing agency is going to want to see that you’ve done hazard assessments, you’ve put control measures in place, you have documentation proving that you’ve identified all this, and you’re keeping them in place. And not only that, but your employees have been trained in what those are. These checksheets go a long way to keep employers out of hot water. They do what they’re supposed to do, in terms of keeping people safe, but they also provide that framework, that documentation, to show that you’re not being negligent. From a liability standpoint, it’s very important, very, very important.

Jamie: I completely agree. I’m going to combine two questions here that actually build on what you were just talking about, Bryan. Mark and Dinesh, thank you both for your questions. Mark asks, “Can you tell if there are any global cultural differences, or can you tell that, based on our experience, people are all the same?” and then Dinesh follows up with, “How do you overcome behavioral safety issues among the employees?” Talk a little bit about the culture in different geographic regions, if you can, and then how you deal with or overcome behavioral safety issues with employees.

Bryan: Sure. I think someone had mentioned earlier that they saw that we’re all pretty much the same, and I totally agree. The culture in different countries is different, and it needs to be taken into account. One of the Phillips factories that I got to work a great deal with, in terms of safety, and I would say became really the pillar of our safety globally for Phillips, was out of Mexico. It was a place where there was definitely more of a caste structure, where maybe the hourly workers didn’t feel comfortable working with engineers or management or some of those higher up on the corporate ladder. But they had instilled such a strong safety culture there—I visited one of our factories there many times, and people on the floor were so enabled when it came to safety. I remember, I was visiting once, and I had my suit on and was looking important, even though I’m not. I’m sure, to the hourly worker, I looked like I was maybe somebody. I stepped close to the equipment to look at something, and the lady who was operating the equipment put her hand gently on my shoulder and pushed me back behind the line and explained to me that part of their safety rules—no one was allowed as close as I was getting. I’ll be honest. That was part of why I crossed the line, to see how she would respond. They were incredibly empowered, and had established an incredible safety culture.

Globally, I’ve seen safety put into almost—I’ve been to Chinese factories, and Mexico, and several different locations where they had very strong safety cultures. You need to look at the culture, but if management cares about safety and is willing to empower the people and put these safeguards in place, you won’t have any problem at all. But you need management commitment.

What was that second one, Jamie, on behavior?

Jamie: "How do you overcome behavioral issues with employees?" If people are not following the rules, and stepping out of line, and crossing over those taped line barriers on the floor—

Bryan: Right, and this is a very important one, because I see this a lot. I’ve been in work environments where they’ll have safety signs, but you’ll notice none of the safety rules are enforced. There was an article on Safeopedia I would recommend you read, called “The Broken Window Theory,” that talks about this. We all understand that we are supposed to behave in a certain way in a different environment. I act differently at a party than I do at a funeral. There are different protocols based on the environment, and again, it’s up to management to set those acceptable behaviors. When a person breaks a safety rule by not wearing PPE, or working on equipment with the guard off, or working on a forklift with their seatbelt off, if they get away with this, this says this behavior is okay.

To me, safety really is most effective from a behavioral standpoint, and here’s why. We can put all the safety measures and control measures in place for the equipment, the environment, and the work, but if we aren’t enforcing those rules, it really doesn’t matter, does it? It’s like having a highway where you have a speed limit of 70 miles per hour, but you don’t enforce it. Don’t expect people to drive 70 miles an hour. We’re not going to do what’s not enforced. The worker has to see that safety is valued, their safety is valued, and that management is supporting safety.

Jamie: There’s a question here from Ernie. "How does pre-inspection tie in with management of change?"

Bryan: Good question. On the last bullet point, I think, in almost all of those, I mentioned that controlled documentation. Here’s the beauty of using safety inspections. These are like living documents. They’re controlled. Let’s say Jamie comes up with the safety checklist we’re using for our work environment today. It has the date, the document number, and Jamie’s name on it. 6 months from now, we make a change. Jamie updates that document, and now, here is a great tool to help drive and reinforce that change. What it does to the worker who maybe wasn’t paying attention to the change—he notices it on that checksheet, or he hears it in training. This gives you a tool to help drive change, which is incredibly powerful.

Some of the work environments I’ve been in, I’ve asked to look at documentation, and in one instance, I noticed that a checksheet hasn’t been changed in 16 years. It’s really easy to see that many things have been changed. Equipment that was on it wasn’t even in use anymore, which meant the checksheet was totally worthless. Their whole program was broken. Put these things in place. Then, when you do change, you can use this to help drive the change.

Jamie: Thank you for that, Bryan. Now, we have a question here from Scott. "What are the three basic causes of accidents? Please repeat." That might be referring to—I think there was a slide on the Checklist Manifesto. The two main causes of failure—Scott, if you’re still on the line, if you can please confirm, but Bryan, talk about basic causes of accidents, if you can.

Bryan: I think I can hit those. The two causes of failure that I came up with was, one, ignorance, and the second one was ineptitude. In the first one, we don’t have the information. In the second one, we’re just not able to use the information properly.

The three behaviors that I mentioned earlier that lead to accidents are those shortcuts, snap decisions, and complacency. Usually, those are the things that lead up to even the reason for us to, say, remove a guard, or to jump on the forklift real quick to move something without fastening our seatbelt. We don’t want to just look at behaviors. We want to look at the root cause to the behaviors.

To Jamie’s point, if that didn’t answer the question, feel free to clarify, and I’ll see what I can do.

Jamie: I think you did talk a little bit about that on your video Q & A, “Why do Workers Take Risks?” I was just looking at that right now.

Bryan: Yes, remember, we’re performance oriented, so we want to get the job done, and often safety is just seen as something in our way.

Jamie: You mentioned the broken window theory. To Bryan’s credit, it’s the number one read article on Safeopedia, so if you haven’t read it—a great article. I know, personally, it really put a different level of awareness in my everyday life, not to mention just being safe, so great article. That concludes, if anybody—I don’t have any more questions on the form here, so I guess we will wrap it up with that. Bryan, do you have anything you want to leave us with?

Bryan: Yes, I want to thank everybody for their time. I really enjoy doing these. It’s great to see that we had so many people attend and desiring to implement this level of safety of where you work. I commend you—great people.

Jamie: Yes, thank you, Bryan. Thanks for everything. We really want to thank everyone for attending the webinar today. Like Bryan said, at any time, if you have any questions, feel free to ask us through Safeopedia or email us directly.

Please download the webinar presentation slides here

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Best Practices Transportation Safety

Presented By

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Written by Bryan McWhorter | Lead Safety Advisor, Author, Writer, Speaker

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Bryan McWhorter is a safety professional with eight years of experience in driving and teaching safety. Bryan gained his knowledge and experience as the safety officer and Senior Trainer for Philips Lighting. Philips is a strong health and well-being company that promotes a safety first culture.

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