“One of the best write-up experiences I have had in a long time, and the best part was how the employee I wrote-up left the meeting in good spirits.”
Oftentimes, when we read a rule, we think about the dos and don’ts of the equation. But, there is so much more to a rule. Rules are in place for a reason; they are designed to protect us and others from harm. Well written rules, especially ones that are focused on safety, protect employees from physical harm, maintain efficiency and decrease any possible liabilities for the company all the while increasing the quality of food being produced.
Writing an employee up for not adhering to the safety rules is an important and necessary step but comes with no guarantees of changed behavior.
Daniel shared with me about an upcoming write-up, and I invited him to use a four-step sequence designed to increase the likelihood of a behavioral change. Because of the recent supervision training that Daniel had engaged in, he was ready to grow in his supervisory role and try something different.
Step 1) Prepare a concise list of the ways this choice affects the supervisor, the employee, the other employees, and the company as a whole. When speaking with the employee begin with the following prompt:
This is the way it impacts me and others…
Step 2) Create space to listen to their story without judgment. Use the following prompt:
Can you share with me how this happened?
Step 3) After listening to the story, summarize it and invite the employee to take responsibility using this question:
As you reflect upon it is there anything you would do differently?
Step 4) Thank the employee for recognizing alternative possibilities and complete the four-step sequence with this final invitation:
Knowing how it has impacted me and others is there anything you think could or would do to correct it?
Using these four steps Daniel reported that his relationship with the employee strengthened, that the employee recognized the potential harm that could have come from his shortcuts, committed to changing his behavior, identified ways that it could be done better in the future, gladly accepted the writeup, and even generated ideas for safety practices in other areas.
If you, or your company, is interested in further exploring the ways that the High-Performing Team Growth Cycle can invite safer, more productive, and higher quality practices with your team please reach out to me at Tim.email@example.com.
In today’s COVID-19 environment, people may think this isn’t a great statement to make: having safety makes sense. In the safety profession, the following question has always been a challenge: “Why safety?”
There are many reasons why organizations embrace safety, such as complying with OSHA regulations, minimizing the impact of insurance rates, reducing injuries, or minimizing risk exposures. And on the surface, it appears that most companies pay attention to safety to avoid something: recurrence of a recent serious injury; OSHA penalties; high insurance rates. While all of these are good reasons, these actions are reactions: in each case safety isn’t planned, it’s a reaction to something that happens.
In the past, the assumed answer is “because it’s required;” however, today we see safety is all about creating confidence: confidence that our food supply is safe, confidence that our workplaces are safe to work in, and confidence that it’s safe for customers to return. And that confidence comes with success. A safe environment allows customers to feel confident to visit and buy from you, talent to seek employment at your organization and remain, and stability for the organization. Over 30 years of experience has shown that to build this confidence, businesses must follow five steps to embrace safety.
5 Basic Steps to Embrace Safety
Ask yourself “What is of risk to the organization, and how can I possibly control it?” You’d be amazed at all the wasted effort you’ll find if you spend a little time asking these questions. Knowing these risks helps you know how to address them.
OSHA lists absenteeism, change in commerce patterns, and interrupted supply chain are potential risks to businesses from the COVID-19 pandemic. And, if we are to assess for risk, OSHA’s assessment for risk fall into three major categories:
Job duties involving close (within 6 feet), frequent contact with the public, customers or workers, especially contact with infected people or other sources of the virus.
Social conditions in the population area have ongoing transmission.
Traveling to areas that are highly affected by COVID-19.
Considerations would be given to proximity (closeness to others); frequently touched surfaces that may be found in a common area such as a lobby, customer waiting room, breakrooms, restrooms, and time clocks; and layouts such as open spaced work areas and airflow.
Once you know risks you need to address, you can know how you’re going to control them, and you’ll want to put them into a written process. OSHA has outlined a process to reduce exposure risk for employees by addressing both workplace-specific and non-occupational risk factors to determine the best prevention measures for your operation. As always, ensure you are following federal, state, local, tribal and/or territorial recommendations
Applying this to the COVID-19 situation, capturing the efforts you make into a plan ensures your efforts are on track and documented, and that they are working well. The key is to ensure everyone knows who is going to do what by when. Elements of a process would include the following:
Expectations, Better Practices, Application
Responsibilities / Roles
Lists who is responsible for what by when
Who can access the facility / job-site / when (i.e., employees, contractors, visitors), working from home, screenings, PPE and distancing expectations, etc.
How is this done, frequency, what surfaces (hard vs. porous), post-COVID suspected or confirmed, etc.
Social distancing, PPE, washing / sanitizing, staggered shifts and breaks, etc.
If necessary / approved, precautions to take, etc.
Carpooling / Vanpooling / Ridesharing
If necessary, cleaning and disinfecting after each ride, self-screening, barriers / PPE, ventilation
Items the company will provide to employees, customers (within its ability)
For confidence on cleaning, following suspected / confirmed COVID cases, etc.
Educating and including your people in the process, including the risks being controlled and why, will help them engage and contribute to the success, making it more valuable.
Applying this to the COVID-19 situation, education would cover the following elements at a minimum:
What COVID is and How it Transmits: this provides the “why” we are doing what we’re doing.
What to do:
Cover coughs and sneezes
Wear face coverings
Stay home if sick / exposure
What’s changed in the workplace
Your program / what’s expected
Implement the process and watch it take off. For the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and OSHA suggest implementing frequent handwashing and shifting policies or practices to include more flexible worksites and work hours. Workplace changes such as workstation distancing or use of barriers, and one single point for entry and a separate single point for exit are also some ideas to consider COVID prevention.
Not everything will be perfect the first time: if something goes wrong, investigate to find out why, then make a change to improve the process.
OSHA uses the following investigation technique for a COVID situation to determine if it is possibly work related or not.
COVID-19 case is likely work-related if:
Several cases develop among workers who work closely together
Contracted shortly after lengthy, close exposure to customer or coworker who has a confirmed case of COVID-19
Job duties include frequent, close exposure to the general public in a locality with ongoing community transmission
COVID-19 case is likely NOT work-related if:
The person is the only worker to contract COVID-19 in vicinity and job duties do not include having frequent contact with the general public, regardless of the rate of community spread.
Outside the workplace, the worker closely and frequently associates with someone who (1) has COVID-19; (2) is not a coworker, and (3) exposes the employee during period in which the individual is likely infectious
The answers to the investigation would trigger immediate actions to do with regard to communication, quarantining and cleaning, and how the process can be improved, if needed.
For additional resources regarding COVID, visit the following links:
These five simple steps will create the confidence needed for success. Contact a safety professional to provide you guidance and support.
About the Author: James Boretti is the President and founder of Boretti, Inc. James has over thirty years of environmental, health and safety management and consultation experience. He is a Certified Safety Professional, a prestigious designation he has held for over 25 years. You can contact him at (559) 372-7545 or firstname.lastname@example.org.