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What’s Your Sign?

- October 20, 2014 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

Like the sign in the photo? It works – people don’t back into the large post behind them anymore. The sign’s message is clear and tells them exactly what to be careful of. It doesn’t rely on their memory to prevent an accident; it reminds them of the hazard so they can avoid it.

Can you really expect your employees to remember everything from training? My desk is covered in sticky notes, because I know I don’t remember everything I’m told. Signs are a great supplement to a training program. Since supervisors cannot be in every place all the time, a sign can jog an employee’s memory and prevent an unsafe choice.

For example, let’s say your best truck driver continues to repeatedly jump out of his truck rather than using the handle and three points of contact rule. You remind him every month at your safety meetings, but it doesn’t stick with him. To top it off, you’ve already sent him to the clinic a few times with minor injuries as a result of this safety violation and he still isn’t following your safety rules. What are your options?

a)     Fire him for not following proper safety procedures.

b)     Hope he doesn’t injure himself again.

c)     Put a sticker in his window reminding him to use three points of contact.

d)     Ride with him 100% of the time to ensure compliance.

I recommend option C, placing a sticker on the driver’s side door reminding this employee to maintain three points of contact when exiting, is your only real option for when you cannot be there. You don’t want to terminate your top driver if you can avoid it.  But you also can’t rely on hopes and wishes, nor can you afford to have a second person on the route all day. Answer C doesn’t come with a guarantee, but it’s better than the other options.

As another example, lets say you need your widget machine operator to stop over filling bins because they get too heavy. Injuries have been caused by employees attempting to move the bins when they are too heavy.  Again, you have basically the same options.  If you put a sign on the bin or draw a line marking the maximum fill level, your operator has a continual reminder of how full the bins should be. Remember, signs can be painted directly on machines and bins – you don’t need to get fancy to keep someone safe.

Do you have any unique signs in your workplace that are working for you?  Share your ideas with our readers.