Safety Orientation Savvy
What importance do you place on safety?
By Michelle Garetson
The first days and weeks in a new job can be very stressful as the new employee tries to get settled and get busy with what he or she was hired to do. Given that the aviation industry appears to be doing more work with fewer employees, getting a new hire up to speed quickly should be a top priority. One way toward achieving this goal is to provide them with a thorough safety orientation presentation their first or second day on the job.
First impressions count
Offering the safety orientation early on reinforces not only the importance placed on safety, but also the professionalism of the organization in the mind of the new hire. A comprehensive safety orientation plan for new hires is a necessity and a valuable tool that sends a strong statement to new and potential employees. Remember: as there seems to be fewer qualified applicants answering the want ads, those that do walk through your doors are evaluating you as much as you are them. A professional approach to safety may be the benefit that puts your organization ahead of the rest, rewarding you with a new, enthusiatic employee.
Isn't having a safety program enough?
No. Just like any program, having it is only part of the equation. You need to be diligent in that program's orientation, reinforcement, and evaluation and be flexible in all three of these areas in order to keep what works and delete what doesn't. If you only offer a 20-minute video on safe practices in the workplace or a series of safety posters and expect that to cover any and all situations, you will not be adequately prepared for the real-time, real-life unsafe situations that lurk in the hangar and on the ramp.
The signs are there
Signs and banners are only indicators and reinforcers, not a replacement for a safety orientation program. If your maintenance operation relies solely on the assumption, "If it's posted, they'll be safe," the truth is, you'll soon be posting one more sign - "Help Wanted."
Safety is resource management
At this year's AS3 show in Tampa, FL, Ric Peri, NATA's manager, technical services, gave a presentation on "Safety Management for Aviation Maintenance," which incorporated a variety of regulatory and informative data on how supervisors can better prepare the facility and staff to function efficiently and safely. Peri reminded everyone about the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which states that "...each employer shall provide a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or physical harm." Each employer must also comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for industrial safety. (Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1910).
Peri suggested that safety is resource management in that having a strong safety program helps to manage people, time, and money. Unsafe practices lead to workers out sick or hurt, which in turn costs the company in time lost for current and future projects, as well as the revenue not realized as a result.
New employee checklist
Items that should be on the agenda in a safety orientation briefing include: Ground Safety, Industrial Health, and Hazardous Waste, and all of these topics have subpoints such as fire safety, personal protective equipment, and hazardous waste management.
Ground Safety involves Hazard Communications and Fire Safety. Hazard Communications are required by regulations and personnel need to be trained on every chemical to which they may be exposed to in the workplace. Did you know that Wite-Out® correction fluid and Super Glue™ can be considered hazardous materials? Employers should use the orientation briefing as an opportunity to train employees in the company's label and warning system as well as on the material safety data sheets (MSDS) and their location.
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