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Management Side
Week of 5 April 2021: The Safety Conflict

Email Jim at jim.thompson@ipulpmedia.com

We often hear the phrase, "Safety is an attitude" and it is. However, people come to work with attitude issues that they just can't turn off. Whether it is a current issue at home, or how their parents raised them, many attitudes are deep seated.

You can put all the safety LOTO in place possible, but people will still find a way to get hurt. It is not that they wanted to get hurt, but they had an error in judgement or an error in execution--or acted out of fear.

If you have ever been told, "If you let that happen again, you're fired" what are you going to do when it happens again? Out of fear, some will violate safety procedures under these conditions. In this case, I'll put as much blame on management as I will on the violator. "If you ever let that happen again, you're fired" is a failure of management.

The pressure to meet production goals is directly in conflict with safety procedures unless you work hard and creatively to take the conflict out of this scenario, for there is a conflict here, no matter what anyone says.

In reality, doing tasks the safest way is often the most efficient way. What this requires, however, is an adequate allowance for training. In my experience, the root cause failure is often hurried training. A task trainer has to be especially skilled, not at doing the task, but at understanding how long it will take someone new to learn to do the task.

The opportunity to do this in the modern mill is becoming more difficult as time goes on. As facilities become more automated, lower-level jobs (and their concomitant tasks) are eliminated. This means workers spend less time in tasks that, for the engaged worker, will provide familiarity with the job.

There something to be said for spending a year or two as a fifth hand mucking out the basement. Leaning on a broom and looking around is its own special kind of classroom. The bright employee will learn where everything is located and what it does. When menial tasks are eliminated, that classroom is eliminated, too. Those managers of years gone by who set up the skills training systems of yesteryear knew what they were doing.

We had had the problem in control rooms for quite a while--the problem of operating paper machines with computer screen jockeys. It is only going to get worse as time goes on.

For safety this week, my admonishment is to take time. Take time to make sure those you are mentoring really know what they are doing and the inherent dangers--the things that can go wrong.

Be safe and we will talk next week.

________

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