Industrial Safety Supply in any well managed work place with Excellent work place injury reduction efforts, will include one "piece of the success puzzle" being the issuance of Discipline for unsafe acts by employees regardless if they sustain an on the job injury.
"Huh, what did you say?"
"Someone gets injured and you want to issue them a written warning for getting hurt on the job?"
It's not Step 1 in the Process, but it's a step in the process, no doubt.
A series of articles are available regarding Industrial Safety Supply and Injury prevention plans.
Employees that perform unsafe acts that they have been properly trained on should be issued disciplinary action whether they are injured as a result of that unsafe action or they are not injured as a result of that unsafe action.
Supervisors and Managers responsible for over seeing a work area, also should be issued disciplinary warnings as well if they fail to maintain a safe work environment and fail to correct unsafe actions in their work place. Consistency. It works, and people respect and appreciate it.
This article is part of a series of informational articles regarding a successful injury prevention plan and incorporating industrial safety supplies and products that are available at Texas Safety Supply.
First steps of Industrial Safety Processes
Previous articles in this series of Industrial Safety Supply have discussed Where do I start in regards to an Industrial Safety Supply process? , then the process of Reviewing the OSHA 300 log for direction in your Injury prevention process, then most recently taking an Appreciative Inquiry approach to Injury prevention.
So, if all the ground work is laid in steps 1-3, then managers and supervisors should be very comfortable issuing discipline to employees that perform an unsafe act or do not comply with a Work Place safety rules because all of this should be ingrained as just the way we do business around here. For example, an employee who's job duty is to unload boxes for a trailer with several shipments loaded within the trailer, unloads some boxes with metal Bands going around the box, grabs the box and cuts his hand because they were not wearing their Best cut Resistant Gloves or other appropriate safety supplies
This can be a very serious injury, possibly causing an employee to miss weeks of work. Potentially stitches and several Doctor appointments are required to treat the wound, as well as the costs for Lost time at work.
If Management and Supervisors have done their job all along by proper training and reinforcement while providing safety supplies, then accountability should already be there. Expectations of wearing the required safety supplies and following safe work rules is a given. Understand this; Safe employees want unsafe employees to be held accountable for not working safe, for not wearing the safety products that they are supposed to wear in the work place. The unsafe employee's reckless unsafe acts may result in the injury of a fellow employee who follows Safety Rules and Procedures. Good employees may not verbalize this train of thought for fear of problems with fellow employees. Trust me though, I have talked with thousands of them. Good, productive, employees want managers to hold the unproductive, the unsafe employee accountable. If not, what's the difference in following the rules. It's all lip service and no action.
If the Correct atmosphere has been built in, then if an employee commits an unsafe act they will know that they have a disciplinary step that is forthcoming.
Discipline for Unsafe Acts not for getting injured
When discipline is issued, the focus should be clear and on what unsafe action was taken, or in the case of a Supervisor what situation was not addressed that should have been. Written
Disciplinary warnings should refer to what is important here, the unsafe act, the action the individual took that resulted in the injury. The purpose of a disciplinary action is to correct unsafe acts and behaviors before they result in a more serious injury. Therefore, in correcting unsafe acts and enforcing safe work rules it's important to address all scenarios when employees do not follow safe work rules, not just when an injury occurs. In the above scenario with an employee handling boxes with metal bands without the use of Cut resistant gloves, if this act is identified but no injury has occurred, then if you have a "uniform and consistent" policy that has the same standard used for all employees in all situations then both employees should receive disciplinary action.
Do not Discipline for Employees getting Hurt
Writing a Disciplinary warning for getting hurt is not smart. Plus it's illegal. The Department of Labor may see
it as retaliation and a form of Discrimination. The Department of labor states these situations need scrutiny in their review. If you only issue discipline when an employee is injured, then you are not consistent. Consistency means that you are always looking to identify situations and actions that may be taking place to prevent future occurrences. Consistency is demonstarted when disciplinary action is taken in both scenarios; when injuries do not occur and cases when injuries do occur.
The bottom line in the world of Industrial Safety Supply and injury prevention is to do the right thing for the right reasons. Do not look to catch someone doing something wrong so you can send them packing, catch them doing something right and enforce that. Just looking for the bad to get rid of someone will destroy the credability and legitimacy of any ijury prevention process. C.T Hewgley, a former offensive Line Coach of mine in College, and without a doubt one of the hardest nosed individuals I have ever known, and also without a doubt, one of the finest Men I have ever known, used to always scream to the Offensive Guards to have their head on a swivel looking for a blitzing Linebacker. This is the way good supervisors are taught. Their head is on a swivel, constantly supervising as they walk through their work area. Looking for efficiency opportunities and looking for jobs done safely and complementing with a smile and a pat on the back, but at the same time addressing the Unsafe act being performed by another employee. Develop Offensive Guard type mentalities and thinking in your operation. "Keep the quarterback safe."
Step by Step Injury Prevention
Obviously, the goal is not to jump to issuance of Discipline for unsafe actions, That's the last step, not the first step. The first step is to identify what us causing injuries to occur. Secondly you must provide the correct Industrial Safety Supply products and the safety equipment that will allow your employees to work safe. Third, involve all stakeholders in the Design and Development of the Safe New world in your work place.
Then and only then after understanding and trust is built in do you begin to take corrective action for non compliance. If steps one through three are done correctly, then people understand what's coming if they do not work safe, They know you sincerely care about them and that is the reason you are talking to them. Talking to them about working safe. People get that and understand that if done in the right way.
Injury Prevention Plan
- Identify the Issues
- Provide the correct safety supplies and safety equipment for employees to work safe
- Provide training
- Enforce good behavior and safe work
- Counsel, and discipline unsafe acts.