New Year, Safe Year: Resolutions for On-site Safety
Just like everyone, we all want to have some resolutions for the new year as we head back to work in 2014 to start off the new year with a big bang! So what’s mine? Here 2 points that I can think of:
(1) Lower my FR (Frequency Rate) and SR (Severity Rate)!
As any safety officer or anyone who is a guru in the field of workplace safety will tell you, workplace safety performance is commonly computed using frequency rate (FR) and severity rate (SR). In any situation, only work time lost due to occupational incidents that need to be reported will be considered. In SR, one can tell the extent of a certain safety issue by exposing how critical each injury or illness it is. This is simply based on the assumption that an employee who misses time from work in order to recover has a more severe problem than another employee who can return to work immediately.
In the case of FR, it is an expression of how many events that took place over a certain period of time by a standardized number of hours that the employees worked. This is a number that many managers in a company will love to use and will insist on knowing what they are so that they can benchmark their workplace safety performance against their peers within the same industry.
It is definitely the ultimate goal for every company to aim for a “Zero” SR and FR. Indeed, this is a very ambitious safety target for any companies in the world today. Many companies are working very hard towards achieving this “zero” path – this is particular very challenging in an asset intensive and dangerous environment like the mining industry where accidents are always possible. A “zero” path towards a “zero” SR and FR will not only answer to the company’s stakeholders and protect the brand value of the company; it also reduces the heavy penalties that are imposed when some dangerous accidents occur within the company’s premises. In very severe case, the company’s license to operate might even be revoked if it was found to provide an unsafe working environment and conditions to the workers. This will definitely harm the bottom line of any company. Hence a “zero” SR and FR will make complete sense to anyone managing an operation.
(2) Put on that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)!
I recalled when I worked in a steel mill a couple of years ago, one of the biggest issues in workplace safety was the folks on the shop floor not putting on their PPE or misusing their PPE. The problem back then became so severe that we had to establish some system in place to reward workers for their constant effort in putting on their PPE regardless of how uncomfortable it may be. Perhaps one of the New Year resolutions is for the companies to come out with PPE that are lighter and is more comfortable to wear – not too heavy or causing too much clumsiness when the workers are working on the shop floor. Companies should also invest more time in educating workers on the importance of donning their PPE at work. Companies should also teach workers how to check their PPE for signs of wear-and-tear so that these PPE can still serve their purposes of protecting these workers in a dangerous workplace environment.
Since the New Year has just begun, I hope these resolutions could come true this year. While many of us make resolutions that are mostly dealing with us getting fitter/healthier or having more time with family and friends, we should also focus on making the workplace safer. By making workplace safety a priority, it will definitely help to ensure your own safety on-site and this will directly translate to more “quality” time with family and friends and not “down” time trying to heal from some workplace injuries or in the worst case scenario, the loss of someone you really love.
Happy New Year everyone and welcome back to work!