No one wants to be like Homer from The Simpsons – kick those mindless habits out the door!
Do you know a coworker that looks for shortcuts to get the job done or the person on the plant floor that forgets to wear eye protection time and time again? Or can you relate to this behavior and have developed lax safety habits?
Your habits – whether good or bad – influence others. Developing good safety habits are critical in the workplace. Bad habits can put workers at risk of serious injuries.
The moment workers start to give into bad habits, the safe behaviors you keep reinforcing go directly out the window. What is the best way to help employees escape bad safety habits?
Here are a few tips to kick bad safety habits out of your facility or workplace for good.
1) Identify problems and raise warnings as soon as possible. When you look at employees’ poor safety habits – reinforce safety first practices by making a change to the way you communicate. Replace old outdated messages on posters, banners, signs, and labels that are becoming part of the furniture with new, bright and eye-catching images that cultivate safety.
2) Never lower your safety standards for anyone. Don’t be influenced by others around you that don’t take safety seriously. For instance, if you see someone that doesn’t wear the proper personal protection equipment, don’t follow their lead. Stand your ground and talk to them or report their unsafe behavior to the safety supervisor so they can handle the situation.
3) Ask questions. When you’re unsure how to work machinery or equipment, ask for help. Asking questions will help you learn how to use the tool properly, safely, and accurately the first time. Failing to ask questions could put you in the driver seat of making an unsafe decision – or worse, causing a serious injury.
4) Practice good housekeeping. Yes, The Simpsons poster with Homer in the control panel room with ice cream and food all over the place created a humorous scene - but don’t let that become your reality. A messy environment will create an unsafe situation. Practice good housekeeping so you can avoid injuries and put a stop to sloppy habits.
5) Only operate equipment if you’re qualified. Ok, the forklift or scissor lift might look like something you could handle because you’ve watched others operate it before. If you haven’t gone through extensive safety equipment training, you aren’t qualified to operate. End of story. Ask for someone that’s qualified to operate the equipment or talk to your supervisor about being trained.
6) Practice safe lifting. One bad habit that happens too often in the workplace is improper lifting. Visual reminders – like lifting technique poster – can serve as a checkpoint to ensure you’re lifting properly. Avoid getting in the habit of injuring yourself because you failed to bend at the knees when you moved something heavy.
7) Be mindful of safety. When you’re conscious or aware of something you make smarter, safer choices. Avoid the dreaded auto-pilot mode by being fully present in what you’re doing. Mundane work can seem too redundant to focus on the task but mindless behavior can lead to serious unintentional injuries.
There are many ways to identify opportunities to influence safe behaviors in the workplace. Kick bad habits out the door before they start to pressure other employees.