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Safety in Your Hands, Not a Clipboard

Wed, 12/12/2018

There’s something very unwelcoming about a person holding a clipboard. Maybe it’s because we subconsciously associate that image with someone conducting an audit or passing some sort of judgement on our performance. Or, maybe it’s that the very nature of a clipboard shields others from what’s being written. Whatever it is, that steel or wooden panel creates a division between the author and the attendees.

For hazard assessments, “division” is not a word you want associated with that process. What you want is to eliminate all divisive barriers, both physical and figurative, between your people and their ability to maximize safety.

There's far too much separation between the findings on paper and the people who implement and improve the process. When safety is done on paper, it prompts a breakdown of effective communication at every step. As mentioned before, the physical nature of a paper and clipboard doesn’t stimulate a collaborative environment when conducting a hazard assessment – which will result in less forthwith discussion. Then, once the boxes have been monotonously checked on the form, it is stashed on a dashboard or in the back of a truck – unnecessarily delaying important information. If there’s time later in the day to fax a carbon copy to other team members at another location, it may sit in the tray of a printer for another couple of hours. Then, maybe it gets placed on the right person’s desk the next day. And, maybe they get around to reviewing it by the end of that day or the next morning. At which point, those who started the process never hear tell of the assessment they completed ever again. By the way, this timeline is extremely generous – it almost never happens this fast (if you can call this fast).

The way many organizations are doing things now creates separation from the process. So, no one really feels like they can own it. Every organization needs to start thinking long and hard about how they can empower their people to embrace safety. We believe hazard assessments are a great place to start – but how you conduct them is key. Clipboards won’t improve Safety Culture.

Let’s make hazard assessments more relatable, more imaginative and easier to follow. Let’s ensure hazard assessments are the collaborative exercise they were always meant to be. Let’s take people out from behind the clipboards and piles of paper, and place safety right in their hands. Let’s free up their hands so they can be expressive, give fist bumps and pats on the back. Let’s enable team members to point out hazards and capture them with photo capability. Let’s get real-time review and feedback from all levels of the organization.

You’ll see a proactive climate and more involved discussion during your hazard assessments when safety is shaped by people.