A Band-Aid Approach Is NOT Enough: Reasons To Ensure The Nine Fundamental Tips

The Nine Safe and Sound Tips may sound elementary or basic, but these tips are foundational and essential components for a safe and sound workplace. Even if you believe these are implemented in your safety program and ‘common sense’, it is worth making sure!  The Nine Tips dig deep and are NOT a band-aid approach. Below are two real-workplace examples that emphasize the crucial need for these fundamental components. 

Case Example #1: Don’t Take A Band-aid View

  • We review incident investigations and MANY, if not MOST document as the solution, “be more careful and aware of hazards.” Yes, this advice may be sound; however, not when a hazard exists that employees try to navigate around during their daily work activities. Plus, this advice is often the only recommended solution. 

We found this statement on an incident report when an employee was pushing a 250L bioreactor. It rolled over a floor drain in the suite and the reactor tipped over on her/him. They were pinned under the tank for almost 3 hours before found by a co-worker. In addition to, ‘be more careful,’ the incident report also stated that 2 employees were required to move the bioreactor. The employee was written up for a safety violation.

Upon discussion with the Safety Committee, we re-opened the investigation to obtain more details for prevention. Here’s what we learned:

  • The floor drain was no longer used and was reported as a safety concern multiple times. It was never addressed. Yet following this investigation, a temporary measure was immediately implemented to cover the drain and then engineering controls were executed to remove it.
  • There is never enough staff on off shifts for two employees to move the tanks. This concern was voiced multiple times without a solution, yet the requirement was still on paper. In fact, employees had been written up before for refusing to move a tank alone.

Case Examples #2: When Fear is a Factor

A second case example is when employees are ‘blamed’ when something happens or are afraid of consequences when a mistake is made, or a near-miss occurs. We have investigated incidents where employees knew that the behavior was unsafe but did it anyhow to keep production going. 

  • One incident was a malfunctioning tank lid that could be jimmied to lock… until it didn’t, and a batch was contaminated. Although no one was injured, the incident caused a financial loss, and the employees were terminated in front of their co-workers. Yet managers also knew the lid would not properly lock, but ignored it too since production could not stop. The employees merely did what they believed was desired and accepted – as did their managers.
  • Another case we reviewed involved a process SOP that was incorrect but went unreported because of fear of being reprimanded for delaying work completion. Changing a process SOP was involved and complicated. Multiple layers and multiple approvals were involved.  Instead, everyone knew the process SOP was incorrect and worked around it. UNTIL a new employee was not ‘mentored’ on the work around but followed the standard requirement as trained, ‘to ALWAYS follow the process SOPs to the letter’. In this case, an injury did occur, the new employee suffered a burn. 

These are signals of a workplace that is NOT safe and sound. Fundamental? Yes. Basic? Yes. But often the missing components none the less and a band-aid isn’t enough. It is essential to follow the Nine Fundamental Tips in addition to other safe and sound practices.

Photo by Webstacks on Unsplash

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