The many faces of safety

The many faces of safety

Posted on February 27, 2017

The many faces of safety

We’ve all heard, seen or experienced the changes in our working environments from what they used to be. We’ve seen changes to machinery, equipment and the procedures used to complete tasks. Changing demographics mean more new and/or vulnerable workers. In many of the companies I’ve dealt with, the changes made and changes on the horizon are very encouraging. Companies can now manufacture, produce or improve their product by being more efficient and consistent in less time, which leads to less waste and fewer errors. This is a win-win for everyone.

Suppliers can sell more material. Producers and manufacturers can increase their production, which in turn increases their profits. Profitable firms mean job security for workers.

All of this is great news, but there seems to one critical element in the workforce that isn’t changing as quickly. It shows in many of the facilities I’ve visited where things aren’t going as smoothly as expected. Incidents, injuries and accidents are still happening. This is more true for vulnerable workers and new workers who may have little to no experience in today’s work world.

The element in question is safety: many companies and workers still think safety is not their responsibility, thinking “it won’t happen to me,” or “we’ve been doing it this way for years – no need to change now.” Many companies that contact Made Safe for advice and guidance, do so after something has already happened. These companies are looking for steps to take so it doesn’t happen again. Workers, supervisors and even management aren’t aware of their rights and responsibilities as outlined in the various Manitoba acts and regulations. I’ve seen the manager’s face when he says “we’ve hired a person for that”; the supervisor’s face when she tells us “she wasn’t informed by management that it was a part of her duties” and the worker’s face who believes “it’s always someone else’s problem.”

This is all far from the truth no matter what face we see. We all have legislated rights and responsibilities. Some workers are familiar with the laws, but are still unclear of what’s expected from them. Many companies seem to ‘talk the talk’ but not ‘walk the walk’. These companies carry on until it’s too late and then try to figure out what went wrong and who was responsible. The answer? We all are. Which begs the question – where do we find this information?

The only way to make everyone aware of their rights and responsibilities is proper training. No matter what face you wear, you must be trained to wear that face. Made Safe offers many courses that are SAFE Work Certified to bring your workforce up to date. Managers and supervisors are encouraged to take the Safety Management Systems and Safety Essentials for Supervisor/Leaders courses. Workers can attend Safety Committee Training. These courses, and many more, will inform and train workers of their rights and responsibilities and make every workplace safer.

Many of the companies that have taken these courses have already seen the benefits, including reduced WCB premiums, fewer lost time injuries and a happier and more productive workforce. Employees gain knowledge and understanding of what they are responsible for and are held accountable for their actions.

The next time you’re asked “who’s responsible?” look into a mirror. The face you see looking back is the face responsible for safety. Let’s all do our part to reduce incidents and injuries and ensure we all go home safely.