New Year’s Resolutions for the Workplace

By Susan Frizzell

Is this the year your PSM program quits smoking and loses weight?

As we enter a new year and a new decade, we all contemplate New Year’s Resolutions to be a better self. We decide to adopt healthier eating habits and to engage in a more active lifestyle and choose to manage our financial decisions better. We want to focus on our mental well-being and mindfulness. We set a goal to learn something new. This blog takes those personal resolutions a step farther and looks at how the resolutions can translate to enhancing safety at the workplace. Have you ever considered New Year’s Resolutions for your Process Safety Management (PSM)? How can we make process safety better?

Resolution #1: Healthy Habits and Active Lifestyle

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25% of American workers will be over the age of 55 by 2020. Our New Year’s Resolution related to worker health and physical activity should consider this fact. We should review the daily tasks of our aging workforce. Most older workers are still capable of conducting their duties and have the knowledge to prevent injuries through safe work practices. But when accidents occur involving our older workers, the injury recovery downtime is often much longer. It is a great time to review the training and knowledge transfer initiatives to ensure safe work practices are shared among older and newer employees. One resolution could be to have experienced personnel review operating procedures to ensure they are current and complete. Then resolve to ensure newer employees have trained adequately on procedures, especially those involving hazardous chemicals. Another resolution could be to transfer strenuous tasks to more able-bodied individuals. Or, review tasks that are most hazardous to employees and look for ways to eliminate the step or reduce the risk. For instance, an action can be automated or conducted from a remote location, removing personnel from the area during a high-risk procedure.

Resolution #2: Manage Finances Better

The first step to better financial health is knowing where your money is being spent. You may not even realize that unnecessary maintenance has become a burden on your finances. Quick fixes may seem easy and may seem like the right decision to keep production moving in the short term. Still, the total running costs may be out of control when frequent maintenance repairs and associated downtime are repeatedly hitting your expenses. The New Year’s Resolution working towards better financial strength should be to review annual maintenance costs and related downtime. It may be time to review the cost of replacements or upgrades. The financial benefit of reducing non-routine maintenance includes fewer tools and materials to make repairs, employee time is open to conduct regular duties and other actions to increase productivity, and reliable and consistent production run times which increase profitability.

Resolution #3: Mindfulness

Mental well-being and mindfulness at work are directly related to stress and job satisfaction. As an employer, small changes in the way we encourage employees can make a massive difference in satisfaction levels and, ultimately, profitability. Many of our resources are spent on the transfer of data to our employees, including requirements, procedures, and expectations. Many of these systems are put in place without input from those directly involved in the implementation. The New Year’s Resolution for employee well-being should be to empower them to contribute to the company plan knowing that they are an essential part of the success of the company. The goal is to engage employees to participate in identifying hazardous conditions, suggesting ways to improve their processes, and taking ownership of each other’s safety. Safety should be addressed from all levels of the organization, especially those directly affected by the implementation of improvements. Positive employee actions should be rewarded accordingly through recognition and rewards.

Resolution #4: Learn Something New

Lastly, I will look at the resolution of learning something new. This resolution should not just be for yourself, but should also benefit others. The last New Year’s Resolution is to invest in our people, their knowledge, and their future. I have always liked Richard Branson’s quote: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to.” Make it a priority to train employees on subjects outside of their comfort zone, including ones that provide business knowledge and insight that make them better coworkers or family members, and that helps them learn a new trade. Please make this a shared experience by having each employee teach their coworkers what they learned. Have them brainstorm ways to utilize their new knowledge for the benefit of the company.

Making New Year’s Resolutions, like the ones listed above, is a great way to improve safety in the workplace. We can extend our lifestyle improvements beyond ourselves and include those around us. Let Adley Services help you with a safe workplace in 2020.