New Ways of Looking at Safety for Welders
Sometimes we take safety for granted. Employers may regularly remind us of safety protocol. We read Fire Prevention for Welders. OSHA books may be handed to us. NFPA codes may be recited, but sometimes it's the simplest visual cues that do the trick to really improve our working conditions.
Charles Duhigg wrote a book called, "The Power of Habit." In his book he recounts the experience of Alcoa's CEO introduction. Paul O'Neill focused on worker safety. He addressed first of all where the nearest emergency exits were. Sure he could've pointed out his plans for the company, the earnings forecast, or his own qualifications, but he didn't.
This was in 1987 and despite investors suggesting selling off Alcoa stocks, O'Neill soon became one of the best CEOs in modern history (according to Bloomberg Businessweek). The focus on safety and proper procedure brought down costs, improved productivity and quality.
"The Power of Habit" addresses the habit loop. When there is a cue, especially a short, vivid cue – we change our habits and are appropriately rewarded. In the early 1900s Pepsodent turned our attention to feeling a film on our teeth and we were rewarded with better teeth.
Febreeze found that people didn't know they had smelly homes, but when they marketed the product to make your home smell nice after cleaning, sales took off. Precisely timed coupons, reminders, and irresistible come-ons, cue us to the products we are craving.
Individuals too can tweak behavior or habits, by tricking ourselves. You learned recently why nutrition and fitness are important to welders. Maybe you've heard the suggestion to leave running shoes by your bed so you exercise every day. The same principles can be applied to creating good habits in welding.
Find a visual cue or reminder to take a fresh look at safety. This may be as simple as leaving your work shoes at the shop. When you get to work and don your safety gear, you make a deliberate mental connection to the fact that you are in a different environment, one that requires constant attention and taking a regular inventory of your surroundings.
Obvious shut off tags, locks, and codes make communicating the state of potentially hazardous equipment clear to others with just a glance. This is crucial where multiple people are working in the same area, where it may be loud or otherwise impractical to verbally inform everyone of a machine's state.
If you own a blacksmithing, ironworks, manufacturing, or welding related business, properly addressing the processes, procedures, and safety habits of your employees will lead to a safer, more productive, and more profitable workplace.
What visual or physical cues work on you? Have you broken from a bad habit or started a good one with a similar technique? Please share in the comments below.