Why I Love My Safety Team…

My Safety Team is the shit… (pardon my language). I find myself so proud of how engaged and invested they are in keeping coworkers safe at our workplace. We've named ourselves “Aegis Battalion” – taken from the Greek word “Aegis”. This was an idea from one of the members of the team – and it is a wonderful flag to fly under.

Our Safety Team (aka “Aegis Battalion”) is made up of people who expressed interest in a ‘Safety Liaison' role, one person from each sub-area in production, whose participation was supported by their manager. To give an example of the granularity of participation, we fit in the food/beverage manufacturing classification, and have a Packaging Department with three representatives: one from the dry side, wet side category A, and one from wet side category B. I love that every area of our facility is represented by someone on our team.

As a typical “EHS Lone Wolf”, it is crucial that I entrust my responsibilities with those whom take this ‘extension' role seriously and with ownership. It is impossible for one person to carry the weight of “positive safety culture” on their shoulders. Our site's safety culture is a reflection of our site's Leadership Team, Safety Team, Incident Management Team, and all of our coworkers. I ensure all coworkers know who their Safety Reps were through a variety of communication sources- all-site emails, funny photos of each representative shared at our all-site meetings, and continually referencing both myself and area safety reps as resources for everyone with any concerns.

Below you'll find some information on our agenda, and special quarterly meetings we have that help make our team so engaged and active!

Our Normal Safety Team Meeting Agenda 

  • Team Member Check In
  • Learning and discussion
  • Review of recent incidents, injuries, near misses and collective thoughts on next steps / corrective actions to prevent from repeating
  • Updates from team members on assigned actions and any resources they need to complete them
  • Safety Project Updates (from me) – these are larger, long term projects that may need periodic updates
  • Round table: opportunity to voice any concerns that have arisen from all of the different areas/departments & assign corrective actions
  • Safety Wins 

Some more deets:

Checking In

We begin every meeting with a check-in. A simple exercise: “What color are you?” Based on the idea that it is difficult to engage in work if one is not at an appropriate Social Emotional level, we take a few moments to acknowledge the humanity in everyone: “Are you green, yellow, or red?” We've had a few yellows reported, but luckily no reds thus far. We offer support as appropriate, and then dive into the content of the meeting.

Learning

“Learn something new every day, have as much fun as you possibly can, and for goodness' sake, be safe.”

Dr. Todd Conklin

The early part of every meeting is spent on learning something. Learning is a value of mine, and it is a value of the EHS Profession, so it is something I intentionally allot time to during our precious 45 minutes that we spend together every two weeks. As of late, I've favored Todd Conklin's Pre-Accident Investigation podcast. (I am a huge fan of New View/HOP/New Safety.) His 3 minute Safety Moments are perfect. We listened to “Principles 1-6” and follow every episode with a few minutes of discussion, relating the lessons from the podcast back to our work and employer. (If you have other recommendations for short safety-team appropriate information sharing/learning activities, please let me know!) 

Getting on the Floor

Once every quarter, we skip the normal agenda, and instead, get on the floor to do an inspection. I pair them up with someone they don't normally work with, and send them off for a rapid 45 minutes excursion. The first quarter we did this, I sent them to areas that they are not familiar with. This quarter, after 6 meetings and all 6 of Dr. Conklin's Principles, I sent them off to their own areas… and boy did they come back hot. It was… what I imagine a parent feels like when their kids being to have their own independent thoughts… Let's just say I was very excited to see them passionately reviewing hazards in their areas and looking for opportunities to improve. In every area, they took action almost immediately. I think I'll continue to alternate having the quarterly inspections in areas they're familiar with and in areas that they're not, just to keep it interesting. 

Ownership in EHS Metrics

Finally, once per quarter, I provide an EHS Site Update to the team. In this update, I review leading and lagging indicators for our site and compare to the company and industry. It is the same review that I do with Operational Managers (and ultimately, the Leadership Team). It is important to me that the Safety Team Representatives, both as local resources for their departments, and as company owners (we work at an employee-owned company) all have the understanding of where we stand, what our goals are, and the direction we're headed from an EHS perspective. It is also important that they see the impact they're having on our people, and this report makes their importance quite clear. 

Safety Wins

We always end our meeting with “safety wins” that the team has seen over the last 2 weeks. These can be as small as a coworker wearing the proper PPE who normally doesn't, to the completion of a huge team-wide effort. I love that we end this way. I encourage the team to provide verbal kudos and follow up with written kudos on our LMS software that's used for annual reviews. It can have a huge impact on our coworkers' behavior!

Gratitude

I feel so much gratitude when I work with my teams (I have two of them – more on the IMT another time…) But today, I am thankful to have such a wonderful, engaged, intelligent, driven Safety Team. The depth of experience on this team is remarkable, and the patience to teach new team members inspires me. I learn from them every time we get together. These wonderful women and men make my day better, my job better, and my life easier. 

Aegis Battalion, arise!

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