Safety must be a core practice of any organization that wants to recruit, develop and retain good employees.
When an organization builds a culture of safety, they create an environment that communicates care for the employees. A key building block in the safety paradigm is the incorporation of personal protective equipment (PPE). As the governmental agency that is responsible for educating and overseeing workplace safety, OSHA has advised, “If PPE is to be used, a PPE program should be implemented. This program should address the hazards present; the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE; the training of employees; and monitoring of the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness.”
A culture of safety saves money by keeping an organization out of trouble and keeping employees on the job. According to OSHA, “It has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers' compensation costs alone.” In case you missed it - that was per week. This means employees are getting injured at a rate that should not be acceptable and there is great incentive for companies to invest in improving their approach to safety.
Let’s review eight keys to building a culture of safety, starting with personal protective equipment:
1.What is PPE
PPE stands for Personal protective equipment. The employer is required to identify the hazards that exist in relationship to the scope of work that they are sending their employees out to complete. In the identification of those hazards the employer must provide training to mitigate those hazards as well as personal protective equipment to ensure safety of employees.
To be clear, personal protective equipment does not remove all hazards for employees nor does it alleviate all liability for workplace safety for employers. OSHA states, “Controlling a hazard at its source is the best way to protect workers. However, when engineering, work practice and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to you and ensure its use.” Providing PPE to employees is one ingredient in the safety cake, to get the full taste there must be an effective training mechanism for helping employees to identify hazards as well properly utilize the equipment.
2.What is OSHA
OSHA is the abbreviation for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA operates as a part of the United States Department of Labor. OSHA was created by Congress through the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
3.When is PPE necessary
The United States Department of Labor states, “If PPE is to be used, a PPE program should be implemented.” Personal protective equipment should be used in collaboration with workplace and environmental controls to reduce hazard exposure of employees. As previously mentioned, employers are first responsible to enact controls for safety through:
4.What kind of PPE is necessary
With regard to hazardous materials, OSHA 1910.120 App B covers the general description and discussion of the levels of protection and protective gear. In this section of OSHA there are four levels of personal protective equipment:
5.Who is responsible to provide PPE
OSHA has created a handout to attempt to clarify who is responsible for providing personal protective equipment. “On May 15, 2008, a new OSHA rule about employer payment for PPE went into effect. With few exceptions, OSHA now requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment used to comply with OSHA standards.”
6.How does a team member properly put their PPE on, adjust, wear and take it off
This is also referred to as don and doff. If the manner in which personal protective equipment is put on is incorrect then employees may be exposing themselves to hazards with a false sense of security. If the manner in which PPE is taken off is incorrect then the employees may be exposing themselves and their families to hazards by bringing contaminants home with them. If employees do not know how to properly put their PPE on or take it off then there is a dual threat of hazard exposure for the employee as well as liability exposure for for the employer. It is in the best interest of all parties to ensure this aspect of training is addressed.
7.What are the limitations of the PPE being used
Personal protective equipment should be viewed as one component of a proper safety program. 360training.com has a helpful pictographic that includes limitations of PPE, “
8.What is the proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal of the PPE
OSHA expects that employees:
Competing in the marketplace requires organizations to recruit, develop and retain good employees. Once those employees are in the door they must be trained on how to perform their work safely which includes knowing how to identify hazards, what personal protective equipment to use and how to maintain their PPE. Building a culture of safety communicates to the team that the organization cares about them. Building a culture of safety is essential to being competitive as it helps to keep players in the game and significantly reduces the cost of preventable workplace injuries or illness.
IZ Ventures - more than business coaching and consulting, we help you connect, collaborate and conquer.
How organizations approach training and certification has a direct effect on development and retention.
In the property restoration industry we all have heard multiple employers complain that they sent their employees off to a water damage certification class only to lose them in a short period of time to their competitors. These same persons in positions of leadership believe that the issue is 100% on the employee side. If we take a step back to dig beneath the surface are we able to determine whether the symptoms give us more insight on the potential cause(s)?
Organizational approach to training
How does your organization approach training within your team? Is training a priority in the sense that those responsible come prepared to meetings with relevant information? Often designated training time approaches with no preparation and is utilized by leadership to air out opinions on how the team is coming up short on execution. When a team has experienced water, fire and hazardous restoration employees, there are plenty of resources to facilitate sharing of knowledge from within.
Questions leaders should ask about training
Organizational approach to certification
How does your organization approach certification with your team? Is certification something that is earned and celebrated? Most organizations are one of two extremes - A) certify everyone from day one or B) certify as few persons as possible.
Certification extreme A often puts the cart before the horse and produces employees who have the book smarts without any field experience which creates some tension with their trainers. Being able to quote the IICRC S500 standard reference guide for professional water damage restoration is only one of many steps to being able to successfully perform mitigation.
Certification extreme B creates an environment without opportunity to expand knowledge or promotion within the team. While those in leadership would say they value industry certification, they either value it too much or do not practice what they preach. The end result is that only a few designated representatives become the information silos in the workplace.
Organizational application of certification
Whether you certify everyone or only a select few, what do you do with certification on your team? If your competitors are lining up to pay your employees who have become more valuable by completing benchmarks such as IICRC S500 or EPA RRP, why are you not competing for your own internally developed resources?
Common organizational responses to certification
Optimizing training and certification
Lead by example. As a person in a position of leadership, are you still actively learning new things about your industry? While the leader should not be the only one acquiring certification, they should lead by example that on going education and personal development are important. When was the last time you learned and/or shared something?
Invest in your greatest assets. Do you invest in regular training to develop your teams abilities and opportunities? Employee retention in the current economy is more difficult and costly than customer acquisition. Certification alone is not the cure all to employee development but it should be viewed as a valuable tool for the team as well as the team members.
Celebrate achievement. Who doesn’t like to celebrate? What does your team celebrate? Do you celebrate certification both leading up to and following completion of the course? Do you make an effort to notice and share the day-to-day wins of your team?
Don’t allow negativity to steer the organization
Perhaps many organizations are speaking their future into reality when they view their team members in a negative light. If you are fearful or suspicious of your people leaving the organization rather than blame them for being unreliable, make an effort to create an organization that they wouldn’t want to leave. Easier said than done, but clearly focusing on blaming others and complaining to your friends with similar negative views isn’t fixing the problem.
Mistakes do not have to be a curse nor failure the last nail in the coffin, good teams and strong leaders learn from everything.
Organizations want to reduce mistakes, eliminate failures and insulate themselves from negative consequences. Focusing on failure would be an error. Persons in a position of leadership (PIAPOL) need to approach issues with the skill and precision of an epidemiologist dispatched to discover the root cause of an outbreak. There is a difference between a mistake and a repeated mistake as well as those made in the course of learning new skills and those made for lack of care. We will explore three simple principles that will assist your team to gaining from failures rather than allowing them to cause you to fall behind.
Three keys 🔑 to making a mistake count:
Ignorance is not bliss, it’s a death sentence.
What does the second most quoted English poet, Alexander Pope have to say about failure? “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying... that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. For an organization the biggest mistake is to not allow room for employees to make mistakes. If the culture of the company is to be heavy handed with mistakes then they will miss opportunities to hear about near misses that could expedite the process of adaptation. Experimentation is a scientific process that inherently relies on failure. We theorize, we test our theories in real world applications and we learn whether our theory is true or untrue. In that process there are several steps where our perspectives were wrong and we adjust course to move closer to our goals.
Pain of failure is a lifelong professor, fear of failure will cut you off at the knees.
Writing in Psychology Today, Dr. Jeremey E Sherman makes a few philosophical observations about the natures of mistakes, “ We learn by trial and error, but learn much faster when trials are similar and errors are clearer.” Touching on the reality in life that most of us are stubborn and chose the hard road when learning something. But he elaborates on a principle that will help unlock the formula to reducing the frequency and impact of those mistakes, simplification, “The cobbler’s trials are largely the same from shoe to shoe—same materials, tools and workspace, and his errors are easy to identify—this shoe fell apart; that one didn’t fit.” This means we can either engage in simplified tasks to minimize our exposure to the potential for failure or we can work to build processes that simplify what we do. Many people in leadership will mention making their systems like McDonald’s to achieve a consistent product output. Efficiency is essential in any business, reducing waste and optimizing operational flow, as long as that process does not completely choke out any room for organizational creativity which is essential in our rapidly evolving market.
Moving forward isn’t the only measure of success as it is possible to be moving forward in an endless circle that goes nowhere. Move onward and upward.
If we know and own our mistakes we aren’t afraid to share them which allows our teams to learn openly and rapidly from them. As the market evolves we have to be willing to admit that what worked yesterday will not work today, so we are constantly evolving and thereby operating in trial and error. Trial and error is a scientific process if we structure our thoughts and experiments towards being productive in a learning culture. Failure in the scientific process is not the end of the road but a step towards truth. When the great inventors Thomas Edison was asked about the apparent fruitlessness of his labors while developing battery technology, he replied, "Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work." By admitting what hasn’t worked we can move towards what will. By creating an environment where mistakes can be shared, the lessons can be spread more expediently to assist others in not repeating them.
When failures happen we must lean into them rather than avoiding them because they often hold the keys to unlocking the next level of lessons. We often view or desire to take broad steps in our growth but it is important to remember that consistent progress can come in the form of crawling, taking small steps or wading through thick muck. We cannot ignore our mistakes, this is a recipe for repeating the same issues. We created a video that demonstrates and exposes the errors in several common management approaches to employee mistakes, you will laugh and learn.
Onward and upward.
IZ Ventures - more than business coaching and consulting, we help you connect, collaborate and conquer.
Today we need to talk about how we treat out employees when training or discipline is necessary. Our helpful Kids As Managers team helps us run through a few scenarios. When discipline is conducted in relationship to values (more), the process can be a positive engagement tool that develops future leaders.
Jon Isaacson / IZ Ventures - Creative business solutions. We help you connect, collaborate & conquer. #MTWSL
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