Some people think hazard awareness is simply putting up posters and OSHA violations on bulletin boards for employees to see. That is part of it, but if that is all you are doing, you are wasting everyone’s time and money. After hazards are identified and their risk assessed, it is important to make employees aware of the hazards so that they can control or eliminate them before injuries and illnesses occur. Hazard awareness methods consist of materials, actions, and events:
- Materials consist of posters on bulletin boards, brochures handed out, buttons given to employees to wear, videos to watch, and awards to present.
- Actions consist of posting OSHA violations and company notices of workplace hazards, experts that speak about the hazard, survivor stories to tell, and game shows to play. Actions are passive in nature and provide an opportunity for employees to read or listen.
- Events consist of stand-down days, health fairs, using a seat belt demonstrator for employees to ride, and product demonstrations. An event provides opportunities for employees to act. Events are active in nature and provide an opportunity for employees to act.
In my book, “How to Use a Systems Approach to Hazard Inspections” (2017) I explained how to identify hazards. I recommended you review the facility hazard list to start identifying hazards. It is critical that employees are made aware of the hazards noted on this list. You should also identify hazards from accident reports, construction drawings, employee physical requirements, inspection reports, and Job Hazard Analyses. Make a list of all the hazards from these sources that have not been corrected. These are what you want to make employees aware of.
The second thing you should do is identify all the safety days, weeks, and months that are held for hazards that your organization has. I suggest you review these activities and determine which ones apply to your organization.
With this information, you will want to implement a management approach to hazard awareness. Let me address a couple of points you should be aware of up front.
In my book, Basic Safety Administration (2003) I explained that “if you have bilingual or non-native English speaking employees it is essential to provide some awareness material in the language they speak naturally. My experience proves that providing material in the language a person speaks can not only help them know more about the safety program but also gives them some incentive to become an active supporter of safety. There is also need to look at the different age groups of employees. Younger employees seem to like active, busy posters and awareness material while older employees seem to like straightforward single message material. Focus your material to a broad audience to reach all or most of your workforce.”
How do you pay for awareness material? You will need a budget. I recommend thirty cents for each employee within the organization. This is a formula that works very well. If you have a high hazard organization, this amount should be one dollar per employee. The key is to effectively spend the money on the hazards that are affecting your processes and personnel. You can also get free material and other support from the community for events.
Fanning, Fred. Basic Safety Administration: A Handbook for the New Safety Specialist. June 2003, American Society of Safety Engineers, 2nd edition, Des Plaines, USA.
Fanning, Fred. How to Use a Systems Approach to Hazard Inspections. Mar 2017, Kindle Direct Publishing, Charleston, USA.