Educating Employees for Workplace Safety
As a manager, supervisor, operations leader or HR pro, it’s part of your job to keep employees safe in your workplace. You take your job seriously and keep a close eye on accident and incident rates, but you don’t stop there; you also make an effort to determine the cause of each incident and prevent similar problems in the future.
But here’s one potential area of protection and improvement you may be overlooking: employee education. Effective employee training happens on two levels. First, employees need to apply practical rules and principles to their work, like pre-flight checks to make sure forklifts and other equipment are safe before use. Second, they need to understand why they’re being asked to do these things. The fundamental principles behind the rules should be part of your training program, and if employees don’t understand these principles, they should not be considered fully trained and their responsibilities should be limited accordingly. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Center of gravity
Many of the rules and procedures involving forklift safety are founded on the concepts of basic physics. Employees need to understand that loads should not sit too far forward from the mast and speed should be reduced when traveling around corners. But the reasons behind these rules are also important. Help your employees find the lift truck’s center of gravity and use this knowledge to avoid tip-overs and stability issues.
Respecting the environment
While many safety rules in the warehouse involve an understanding of physics, many more require another core concept: situational awareness. Situational awareness in warehouse and distribution center settings isn’t always innate, and inexperienced workers must be taught how to cultivate this sensitivity. Train employees to notice what’s around them, from the condition and integrity of floor surfaces, to the stability of a load they’re about to lift, to the positions and actions of the pedestrians around them. Teach them how to listen to their instincts and pay attention to both visual and auditory signals.
Interaction with co-workers and management
Employees should show respect for their managers and peers by speaking up when they see an unsafe condition or a hazardous practice taking place. If equipment needs replacement, another employee is behaving dangerously or workers aren’t being provided with the safety gear and conditions they need, they should know who to speak to and how to get this problem resolved. They also feel comfortable asking for training and information they may not have.