By James Vos, AEM Safety Materials Manager
The importance of safety has been drilled into us since we were kids: Look both ways before crossing the street, don't run with scissors and tie your shoelaces so you don't trip. (Thanks, Mom and Dad.)
When operating any type of equipment, however, safety awareness takes on a whole meaning. Whether it’s a wheel loader moving a large payload through a worksite or a tractor pulling a planter across a field, it's critical that operators know how to safeguard against accidents.
June is Safety Awareness month and as we near July, I have to wonder how often the safety message concerning equipment operation needs to be repeated?
Obviously, safety starts with adequate training, but more importantly, how is it reinforced over time to guard against complacency? As we know from our childhood, after hearing the warnings too many times, the safety message can sometimes be taken for granted or simply ignored.
In addition to numerous warning labels and safety literature that come with the equipment, many employers provide safety programs to reinforce and strengthen their organization’s safety policies and requirements at periodic intervals. These programs will typically offer various printed manuals, online tutorials, videos and testing materials to ensure workers avoid common hazards.
But are those programs strong enough to keep the safety message relevant every day? How often do your workers meet to discuss safety? Every morning before the project starts? Once a week? Do they frequently hold “toolbox talks” to identify any potential hazards?
Other factors need to be considered: Does your organization provide a supportive safety culture, one that promotes positive reinforcement and encouragement rather than punitive actions? Does your program foster engagement and discussion, encouraging more workers to openly discuss their concerns?
Though many training and certification classes prepare equipment operators for safety awareness, it’s always a good idea to re-evaluate your company’s programs to ensure that awareness stays strong.
The message of safety is one we should never get complacent about. As we wrap up Safety awareness month, AEM and its member companies remind you that, when operating equipment, it's not just once a year that we need to be safety conscious. It's every day.
For More Information
AEM supports safety awareness year-round by offering an extensive array of safety products, including safety manuals and videos, with major equipment types covering aerial, agriculture, compact/portable, earthmoving, forestry, lifting, road paving and utility excavation applications.
Click here to see the complete line of AEM safety materials or visit safetymaterials.org.
Click here for more information on June National Safety Month from the National Safety Council.