What technology or resources are available to streamline safety or help workers embrace safety culture?
This week Rachel Walla, from Ally Safety, joined us for this edition of Dynamic Discussions to answer a few safety questions!
A little history on Rachel and her company. She started YouTube videos about 2 years ago because she liked making video content. She thought safety training videos left a lot to be desired and could sometimes be brutally boring. The videos started out with just little safety training topics. Since then, it’s grown into a full time video creation company. Over the last year the company has done their first 20 OSHA compliant full length courses that they are now licensing to other training platforms. It’s been very busy and exciting and kind of a weird career pivot for Rachel, but definitely a good thing.
Question 1: What technology or resources are available that can be used to streamline worksite safety and help workers embrace safety culture?
There is a lot that is available now. Initially when I got into this industry over 10 years ago, there wasn’t much out there. Everyone wanted or thought they needed an app. That was something that was just too far out of reach at the time. Now there is a lot of technology, and it can be especially time saving for your day to day work life balance if you can implement the right things. What I personally like are “fit for work” apps that can test people’s fitness for work. There are also some really cool things for musculoskeletal apps that can teach people to be safer with their lifting. Musculoskeletal disorders are the number one cause of workplace injuries, which are those lifting repetitive motion injuries. Anything you can do to prevent those, including wearable tech, is a great thing to have.
Another thing that I would recommend that you have is a good software system. There are a ton of them out there. It will vary by every organization which one of them is right for you, but that can be very helpful. I still know so many safety professionals who are still writing reports or imputing everything into an Excel spreadsheet and that’s just not necessary anymore.
Of course, I’m going to plug training because it is most ideal if you have a good training app where people can get point of views training. For example, if you are able to scan a QR code on a fire extinguisher and that code will pop up a video about how to inspect fire extinguishers, that is the best use case for things like that.
So, training is something that can be automated, it can be on an app, and it can be accessible by anybody. Those are my suggestions and I really think that just starting to implement those and getting familiar with what is out there is key to finding the right solution for what your unique workplace needs are.
Just like anything, technology is always advancing so it’s really great to see how safety has evolved even in the last few to ten years since Rachel has been doing it.
Question 2: What does OSHA say about training? Is the video training OSHA sufficient or do they still want employers to do classroom style training?
I think that video is an excellent way to introduce people to concepts and you can demonstrate things to people that you wouldn’t normally be able to see in the field, which is great. However, I don’t know that it’s a great thing to substitute all of the field training for video training. I think in the field training is critical and you can learn from the people around you who have more experience in that specific role, and it’s really important that you utilize that. There are some training topics you can do completely with videos, but I would also say you don’t want to take all of the responsibility off of yourself.
So many different companies have policies that are not identical to OSHA’s rules and regulations. In those cases, we need to embellish the training a little or add to it in some way or another. You can do that fairly easily whether it’s just incorporating a few slides into the end of a video that say, “this is our specific policy and how we handle this”, or if you do it in a classroom setting, you can have someone get up and talk in front of the group.
So many of these OSHA required training have to be annual. For example, forklift training is one that comes to mind. It has to be done every 3 years. You really want to make sure that you do the refresher training at the right frequency. Of course, any time that you have somebody that is involved in an accident or incident or is caught not utilizing the safety policies and procedures appropriately you need to do that refresher training for them.
So, there is a lot of need for training, and it can be very exhausting for safety professionals to be providing it all themselves. If you have a good content provider, it’s definitely a huge time saver.
Question 3: What is the biggest mistake you see Safety Managers making?
I’ll speak for myself when I was a Safety Manager and say that I think Safety Managers are expected to wear so many different hats and do so many different things. I think the biggest mistake we find ourselves getting into is that we are reactive when we know we want to be proactive towards safety. However, oftentimes there is a shortage of safety professionals out there even before the Great Resignation.
A lot of companies don’t have the safety resources that they need. So, safety professionals are just overloaded with work, and they end up putting out fires, barely keeping up and not able to really focus on improvement as much as they would like. The biggest mistake I think is that we become reactive because we are just too busy.
The way that I would solve that is to work to make sure that you can put systems in place that work. That can be difficult because you have to step away from the day-to-day stuff to work on those systems, implement them and create them. That is the only way I’ve ever found that really works to get ahead.
That also includes having a good software program, trying out things that are new on the market. For example, I think that the X-Series for some of the companies that I’ve worked for and consulted with would be excellent just because safety professionals sometimes spend a lot of time running around trying to find solutions to fall protection problems.
When I was a safety professional, I loved training and trying to make it interesting, but there were weeks that I would do 8 hours of instructor-led training programs in front of a large group. It’s the same speech over and over and over. Even if you don’t want to use an off the shelf training video, you can always film yourself the first time then play the video the next several times. It will save you so much time.
Those were the types of things I would use to try and find ways to make my life easier. Safety is a high burnout job, it’s high stress, difficult and just not enough resources for what they are tasked to do. You must find a way to make the job a little easier on yourself. If you are burnt out, then you will not be effective.
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