How to Build a Successful Safety Process

Imagine that you have never sailed a boat. You are asked to sail 500 miles over open seas. Your only training is a four-hour video. Would you be able to complete the journey? Perhaps, but certainly not very likely! Unfortunately, newly hired employees may feel like they have this same experience at your company. At Milliken, safety training is very much an employee driven process, and, before we hand our associates the responsibility to drive the safety process, we take deliberate steps to ensure we’ve given them the knowledge and skill to be successful.

Basic Safety Education

Our focus on safety training is proven and in line with the highest order of global and national safety standards including ISO 45001, OHSA, NIOSH and manufacturing best management practices. In addition to ensuring the effectiveness of traditional employee safety training on a wide range of safety topics relative to the associates’ specific jobs and equipment they use, such as Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), Incident Investigation and Lockout Tagout (LOTO) to ensure compliance, we also place a premium upon teaching them to predict future problems and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities through continuous improvement. Our associates are trained to utilize and apply time-tested tools and methodologies such as DMAIC and 5-Why to determine root causes and establish the framework to reduce risk and increase overall health and safety for everyone.

Safety Training for New Employees

At Milliken, newly hired associates play a key role in our safety performance and a great deal of effort goes into their safety development. All associates undergo two months of safety education and training that is designed to be easy, interesting, and fun. Each week is designed to build knowledge and confidence on the shop floor. A mixture of classroom education, floor assignments, and shadowing help new associates think about safety from every angle.

How to Plan for Workplace Safety Training

Week 1 begins the safety training with foundational education on standards, rules, and absolutes. Additional training on common high-risk activities such as mobile equipment and lockout/tagout is also completed.

During week 2 the new associate is paired to an individual safety sponsor and job trainer. With those partnerships, associates begin to practice and demonstrate skills around key activities of working safely.

The focus during week 3 is safety auditing. Associates are taught how to properly perform a behavioral safety audit. Also, equipment condition audits are part of the training. Again, partnered with their safety sponsor, the new associate will practice their learned auditing skills.

Week 4 is dedicated to understanding the safety organization. With many safety sub-committees in place, the new associate is responsible to learn about their purpose and mission with the goal of joining a sub-committee. In addition to the learning, the new associate will meet and interview the safety leaders. The meeting is not haphazard, but another chance for strong safety advocacy.

Week 5 is an opportunity for the new associate to present their learnings and understanding to their peers.

Week 6 may be the most stressful – a knowledge test. The test is designed to measure their understanding of the fundamentals.

After passing the test, the associate will be invited to a breakfast with the plant manager during week 7.

The training is punctuated during week 8 with a graduation recognition and placement to a safety sub-committee.

The two-month training is an investment. Some people do not graduate. However, the effort in personal safety education ensures that safety graduates understand the priority of safety, know how to “see with new eyes”, feel comfortable sharing stories of their observations, and have adopted the “safety attitude”.

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