One of the easiest ways to improve workplace safety is by conducting regular observations and compliance assessments. As a Safety Manager, these should be weekly recurring tasks on your to-do list.
However, even these can become commonplace and you need to shake-up your process.
How? By doing a Safety Blitz!!!
What is a Safety Blitz
The definition of a Blitz is a sudden or intensive attack – NO, we aren’t conducting a military action, so let’s use the secondary definition – a sudden, intensive, and concerted effort on a specific task.
This means that a Safety Blitz is an unannounced review by a group all looking at the same task.
Picture a group of 5-10 people conducting observations of forklift operations, unannounced and all at the same time. That’s a Safety Blitz!
Department Assessments Improve Workplace Safety
If you want to improve a specific behavior, figure out a way to measure it, observe & measure, and share the results. After a short time, you will see improvement.
Department assessments are not just looking at one behavior or just one employee. It’s grouping a set of safe work practices together and observing the department as a whole. For example:
What is measured gets managed!
- Proper lifting and breaking it down into the steps of the lift
- Forklift Operations
- Housekeeping or work area organization
- Lockout Tagout
Conducting regular assessments gives you the opportunity to personally coach employees, get a feel for what their obstacles are, and get out from behind your desk and onto the floor.
You can spend as little or as much time as you need. If you take one day and rotate department areas or work methods every 15-20 minutes, you can assess the safety compliance of a large group fairly easily.
After a while, though, the workers get used to seeing you and they’re on their best behavior. Or the results tend to plateau. This is when a Safety Blitz is needed.
How to Plan a Safety Blitz
The first step is determining who is on your Blitz team. This can be anyone you choose.
I like to include members of management from other departments. They’re familiar with the operations but give you the advantage of fresh eyes to the observation.
You may also choose to include employees or safety committee members. This is a great way to get employees involved in your program.
Have a meeting with your Blitz team and train them on the safe work practices they will be observing. Having pictures of good and bad examples are great if they are available (maybe start collecting those photos).
Use a simple form to collect the data. A tally mark system works great; they can mark the number of times they did it right and the number of times they did it wrong. In the end, when you compile all the results, you will have a score.
Be sure to train your team on the paperwork and how to complete it.
Once everyone is comfortable with the process, schedule a day, time, and duration where the entire team can do the Blitz together; 20 minutes is more than enough time.
Conduct the Safety Blitz
Split everyone on your team up to observe a different area. You want fresh eyes in the area if possible, so be sure to send people to observe where they normally don’t work.
The team members conduct their observations. They can tell the employees what they are doing when asked; there’s no harm in transparency. When the time is up, they return to you and turn in their paperwork.
It’s really that simple.
Share the Results and Improve Workplace Safety
All the team members were observing the same set of safe work practices. All you have to do is compile their results into one report.
The results are typically presented in a percentage of compliance. For example 8 times they did it right and 2 times they didn’t = 80% compliance.
Because you want to be able to share this with everyone, even employees who will just glance at it, using a graph is the best way to communicate the information.
For a management report, you may want to be ready with the number of team members, the number of observations both positive and negative, as well as any comments your team members noted.
Post the results in an employee common area, like a break room or by a time clock. Verbally review them during a shift or team meeting and offer suggestions to improve their performance.
To Improve Workplace Safety, Give Positive Feedback
Don’t use a Safety Blitz to scold or berate a department for non-compliance. You’re not doing these as a witch hunt to blame someone.
Safety Blitzes are to shake-up your assessments. They are a double check that your weekly assessments are accurate. And, they get other management team members to recognize the safe work behaviors employees should be following.
Think about it…if your weekly assessments are showing 90%-95% compliance, but your injury rate is still high, there is a disconnect in the data. Doing a Safety Blitz can help you identify the problem you are missing.
From here, you can change your training for that problem area, or put more focus on it.
How Often to Do a Safety Blitz
Because the idea is to shake-up what you’re doing, you don’t want to do them too frequently. If you have multiple departments, you could do one department a month. For a single department, once a quarter is good.
If you do them too often, the employees will start being on their best behavior when your Blitz team members are out and about, making it harder to identify the causes of your incidents.
Start planning your Safety Blitz this week. Determine who you want on your team and approach them. By the end of the week, have your first Blitz Team meeting.
Not only do Safety Blitzes give you great data, but they’re also a lot of fun to do. Don’t forget to mix up the shifts you do them on too!
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
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Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)! I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience. Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world. I would love to help you too.