Culture Of Safety Ownership Empowers Employees To Take Responsibility For Their Safety And The Safety Of Others.
For years, the traditional approach to safety in industry has focused primarily on addressing physical hazards of the job. But a growing trend in safety initiatives, and one that has drastically reduced incidents in numerous industries, now addresses human behavior as key to instilling best practices – making sure workers learn how to recognize hazards and take responsibility for their own safety, as they also watch out for co-workers. To that end, DSC Dredge, LLC, which is based in Reserve, Louisiana, has spent the past three years developing a corporate culture of safety within its three facilities. Its endeavors have resulted in a team approach to safety that has been embraced company-wide by all of its employees.
DSC began enhancing its safety program in 2012 when it hired a new Corporate Health, Safety & Environmental Manager, Jeff Yaun. That year, and throughout 2013, Yaun launched an effort to create a strong safety culture by involving all DSC employees in the new safety program and initiating regularly scheduled safety meetings.
As DSC’s safety program evolved, the company rolled out new initiatives in 2014, with a primary focus on minimizing risk for jobsite-related injuries. New procedures included a job safety analysis (JSA) process. Every morning before starting work, DSC’s manufacturing personnel meet to go over JSAs and prepare team members for the type of work they will perform that day. The JSA process helps all DSC employees to identify the hazards that are inherent in their work environments. DSC strongly believes that identifying hazards daily increases safety awareness and allows each employee the opportunity to work safer.
“Our monthly At @ Glance meeting format, coupled with the daily JSA meetings, support full-circle communication, with information being provided such as important HR and training topics, as well as reports of injuries, near misses, incidents, safety observations, organizational accountability, new project announcements and management updates,” notes Robert Wetta, DSC Dredge President and CEO.
Stand Down For Safety
In 2015 DSC took its safety initiative one step further as it held an inaugural Safety Stand-Down Day at each of its facilities. During the Safety Stand-Down Day, all work was shut down for an entire day as the focus was placed solely on safety training. DSC’s Reserve, Louisiana, and Poplarville, Mississippi, facilities held their Safety Stand-Down Days in February, and its Greenbush, Michigan, facility held its Safety Stand-Down Day in March.
The 2015 Safety Stand-Down Day training was presented by a team of 13 DSC employees with a common goal of promoting “safety ownership” – a concept that DSC’s safety program belongs to all employees, and not just the safety department or the manufacturing personnel. In addition to covering annually required OSHA (the U.S. government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration) training topics, the purpose of the Safety Stand-Down Day was to involve every employee in taking responsibility for their safety and that of others. The morning started with a talk about the safety culture, which was followed by a safety perception survey where employees were able to anonymously provide their current opinions about DSC’s safety culture. By recording the results of the survey, DSC will be able to analyze trends over time by defining metrics that track progress toward safety culture goals.
“In an effective safety culture, all members of the organization feel responsible for safety and pursue it on a daily basis – meaning employees go beyond the ‘call of duty’ to identify unsafe conditions and behaviors, and they intervene to correct them,” says Yaun. DSC will make the Safety Stand-Down Day an annual event for all of its facilities.
Additionally, during the Safety Stand-Down Day, DSC introduced its Safety Observation Program, and encouraged all employees to participate in the ongoing safety observation process. As part of the program, a safety observation form, available to all employees, empowers employees to note actions for safe behavior, unsafe behavior, or a near-miss incident. It also provides employees with stop-work authority if a situation warrants it. Categories include housekeeping, pinch points, fall hazards, equipment, material handling, PPE, chemicals, tools and environmental hazards. When an employee fills out the observation form, he or she fills out the type of action and the category of the action. The employee may write a quick note on what was observed and, if applicable, talk about any immediate corrective actions that were taken.
Safety observation forms are now reviewed monthly at DSC’s At @ Glance safety meetings, which are held at each location. At the end of the meetings, management opens the floor for questions and feedback from the staff. DSC incorporated this meeting structure in 2015 to promote company-wide communication and to reinforce the importance of safety initiatives.
In 2015 DSC also introduced the concept that safety, quality and production must be kept in balance in order for the company to meet its goals. Each of these three components are of equal importance, as depicted in the company’s Balance Logo emblem, which features a three-legged stool inscribed with the words “safety,” “quality” and “production,” on the three legs. “ While the company may face delivery deadlines, production must be performed in a manner such that quality and safety are not compromised,” says Wetta.
“All industries are trending towards safety, and I think it is important that DSC’s employees take our commitment to safety seriously. This entire process is getting our employees more involved in safety, promoting and supporting a culture of transparency, and they are becoming owners of their safety and others’ safety in the process,” he continues. “It is a real grassroots effort in addressing safety concerns. We are heading into our fourth year of this process, and we are very excited about it.”
DSC Dredge Safety Stand-Down Days Address Common Hazards
In 2015, DSC took a large step in its evolving safety culture, as it held a “Safety Stand-Down Day” at each of its facilities. During the Safety Stand-Down Day, which took place on different days at each facility, all work was shut down at for an entire day at the operation, and the employees focused solely on safety training. Topics covered during DSC’s 2015 Safety Stand-Down Days included:
- Accident investigation
- Blood-borne pathogens
- Confined spaces
- CPR/first-response drill
- Evacuation drill
- Fire extinguisher drill
- Hazard communication
- Hearing conservation
- Hot work
- Ladder safety
- Machine guarding
- Medical records access
- Office safety
- Personal protective equipment
- Respiratory protection
- Slips and falls
- Stop-work authority