Last week we made a milestone at Optimation. We reached 400 days and over 500,000 hours without a lost time accident. It was a time to celebrate, a time to look back and be proud of what we have done and a time to look ahead on how we can up our game and work toward the million-hour mark (which we did reach once before in the last decade). Milestones like this are not reached by chance. It takes training, planning, attention to detail, coaching and teamwork.
I am proud of the men and women who were able to achieve this goal. I know how many different manufacturing plants they visit. I know how many unforeseen risks they encounter, how many confined spaces, electrical hazards and chemical hazards they find. And in each case they analyze and make a safety plan. They plan how to do their work safely and efficiently with the minimum risk possible for themselves and their team. And they follow their safety plans. Team members warn each other when they see risks or unsafe behavior.
Over the years, Optimation has received many awards for safety from both our workers comp insurance carriers as well as our clients. From one client the Optimation team was selected contractor of the quarter for 14 consecutive quarters during which they had no lost time accidents, a truly remarkable feat. And Optimation doesn’t keep safety and safe behavior to themselves. Our safety engineers teach OSHA training to other firms; they help set up safety programs for clients; they design and install machine guarding and emergency stop circuits for production systems.
With enough training and enough practice, safe work behavior can be learned and practiced. But no one ever reaches a plateau where they can take safety for granted. Constant retraining is always necessary. Each day requires new reminders and a new set of diligence.
It is ironic that a disproportionate number of accidents happen at home and not in the workplace. Somehow at home we let our guard down, we don’t make formal safety plans, or even informal ones. We are often less careful with our ladders and our tools and we sometimes take shortcuts to get things done. We should take a page from our work safety programs. We should practice what we learn at work, take first aid and AED classes. Periodically we should take a defensive driver course and use the lessons learned. And each of us should work on a “million hours without a lost time accident” goal. If we include 24-hour days (to allow for the potential of accidents while sleepwalking) we’d need to live over a hundred totally safe years to make this happen.
Here’s to another safe year!