Five tips for improving safety

Your no. 1 concern is your people. Here are tips to improve their safety.

We all strive to be as safe as possible. But the reality is that working at water or wastewater facilities or in manufacturing environments carries the potential for danger.
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Veolia North America's safety numbers were just released, and show that the company continues to outperform public municipal systems as well as private-industry water, wastewater and other comparable utility systems as compared to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). With that in mind, Veolia has reflected on its past year and has compiled these five tips for improving safety.
"Our employees are very open to safety ideas because when it comes to safety, you can never stop communicating and learning," said Dan Ryan, executive vice president, management systems and health and safety.

Think - and speak - about safety every single day. Make it a natural part of your work process. Employees must be encouraged to immediately identify, stop, correct, and/or report any unsafe practice or condition. When employees feel "safe" and encouraged to speak up, they become active owners. It helps when an organization's leadership encouragingly "walks the talk." At Veolia, members of our management team serve as yet another set of "safety eyes" when conducting visits in the field. 

In doing so, they comply with site-specific Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements and lead by example. Area, regional and national business meetings, conference calls and webinars routinely include time on the agenda to address health and safety matters. When a safety incident does occur, organizational leaders actively participate in the Root Cause Analysis (RCA) process to ensure corrective and preventive actions are identified and implemented to eliminate future near-misses or actual incidents.

Make safety everyone's issue. Don't just limit safety briefings to field personnel. Begin any substantial meetings - even office meetings - with a safety moment to reinforce the culture throughout your entire organization.

Maintain and enforce safety standards. No matter where your organization is located, applicable safety standards must be communicated, followed up with employee training and ultimately enforced to ensure a safe working environment. For example, at Veolia we think of a successful health and safety program the same way we view the well-known fire triangle - which reinforces that all 3 legs of the triangle are required to make fire (oxygen, heat, and fuel). Our "safety triangle" includes the tools for success, training, and enforcement. Absent any one of these three legs, a health and safety program will not be successful.
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Address safety multiple ways. Busy people need reminders, so have more than meetings. Hold training programs, weekly safety reminders, safety tailgate meetings, ongoing safety training and awareness campaigns and consider weekly email safety updates sent directly from the highest person in your organization.

Measure safety results and always push for continuous improvement. Don't settle for beating your own internal goals. Always strive for a perfectly-safe workplace. No matter how good you are, always work to be better for your employees' sake.

Employees want to work for a safe employer. And no spouse or loved one wants to receive that terrible phone call in the middle of the day. Keep this in mind when developing your safety program.

"Employee and public safety must be a company value, not just a priority. Priorities change, but values do not," said Dan Ryan. "The hard-working employees in the environmental industry work every day to protect the health of Americans. Protectingtheir health and welfare must be a core value of any organization."

If you have an innovative safety program at your facility, please send us your tips and we can share them in a future newsletter.

Veolia maintains a uniform safety culture across its organization. If you are looking to implement or improve the safety culture at your organization, call us at 312-552-2800 or e-mail us and we can answer any questions you may have.

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