Boosting safety awareness

Training, Mentorship, and Cultural Shifts

In manufacturing, the concept of safety goes beyond compliance and accident prevention. It is at the heart of a thriving organizational culture in which safety awareness is deeply embedded at every level. This blog discusses three critical strategies that are reshaping workplace safety: interactive training, mentoring programs that combine experience with innovation, and a fundamental shift to an organizational culture that puts safety first.

Decades of progress

Key industrial accidents and safety evolution in Europe

Over the past 50 years, there has been a significant shift in safety awareness from reactive responses to proactive safety management. This evolution has been marked by several notable accidents that have served as catalysts for change, stimulated the implementation of stricter safety regulations, and fostered a culture of continuous improvement in safety practices.

Some major industrial accidents in Europe

  • Seveso disaster, Italy (1976) – A chemical release that prompted the EU to create the Seveso Directive, which aims to prevent chemical accidents.
  • Piper Alpha disaster, UK (1988) – The world’s deadliest offshore oil spill, which led to a review of UK offshore safety procedures.
  • Fireworks disaster Enschede, Netherlands (2000) – A devastating explosion that called for stricter safety standards in the handling and storage of explosives.
  • Buncefield Explosion, UK (2005) – A major explosion at a fuel storage facility highlighted the need for better safety measures in fuel storage.
  • LPG explosion in Turin, Italy (2007) – This incident highlighted the risks of storing combustibles in urban areas, leading to stricter regulations.
  • Gas explosion in Ghislenghien, Belgium (2004) – An explosion in a natural gas pipeline in Ghislenghien killed 24 people.

These and other incidents have led to the development of higher safety standards, the implementation of advanced risk management strategies, and a shift to a safety culture that prioritizes accident prevention through education, awareness, and continuous improvement.

Interactive Training

In the high-stakes environment of manufacturing, interactive training empowers workers to practice and understand safety procedures in a realistic, yet controlled setting. This approach not only enhances learning but also instills a deeper, more instinctive understanding of safety protocols, crucial for the fast-paced and often hazardous industrial workplace.

Real-time Simulations
Using real-life scenarios, employees can practice safety procedures, recognize hazards, and make critical decisions in a controlled environment.

Digital Platforms
Leveraging e-learning platforms or even VR can make training sessions more engaging. These platforms, when integrated with contractor management systems, can also facilitate consistent training for both in-house staff and contractors.

Feedback Loops
Post-training discussions and evaluations not only gauge understanding but also offer avenues for improvement, ensuring the training remains relevant and effective.

Custom versus off-the-shelf solutions

Off-the-shelf training provides a broad, generic approach suitable for immediate compliance needs but may lack relevance to specific workplace challenges. In contrast, customized training is tailored to an organization’s unique risks and procedures,

Safety Training Implementation Checklist

fostering a deeper understanding and application of safety practices. The choice between these training types significantly impacts an organization’s safety culture, with customized solutions offering a more targeted approach to enhancing workplace safety and compliance.

Mentorship & Cultural Shifts

Incorporating mentoring into safety programs can significantly improve the safety culture within any organization, especially in industries with high safety risks such as manufacturing, construction and healthcare. Mentoring programs bring experienced workers in contact with less experienced workers, allowing for a direct transfer of knowledge, attitudes and practices essential to maintaining safety standards. This approach improves understanding of safety protocols and increases safety awareness.

An example from the petroleum industry

An innovative mentoring model is the “Green Hand, Golden Hand” program. It pairs new employees (“Green Hands”) with experienced employees (“Golden Hands”) to facilitate the sharing of critical safety knowledge and practices. The visual cues of green and gold badges make it easy to see who needs guidance and who can provide it, promoting a supportive environment for learning and safety awareness.

Key Steps

Identify safety-conscious leaders
Recognize those within the workforce who naturally prioritize safety and have the respect of their peers. These individuals should embody the safety culture you wish to propagate throughout the organization.

Train mentors
Provide these identified leaders with the necessary training to enhance their mentoring skills. This includes how to positively use their influence to foster a culture of safety, communicate effectively, and lead by example.

Establish clear identification for new employees
Implement a system that makes it easy to recognize new employees who require guidance. This could involve visual cues, such as specific badges or uniforms, to facilitate easy identification by mentors.

Implement evaluation processes
Develop a structured approach to evaluate the progress of new employees in understanding and applying safety protocols. This could include regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and practical assessments to ensure the continuous improvement of safety practices.

Foster a supportive learning environment
Create an atmosphere where new employees feel comfortable asking questions, seeking assistance, and where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities rather than failures.

Promote continuous improvement
Encourage both mentors and mentees to continuously seek ways to improve safety practices, learn from incidents, and share knowledge across the organization.

Download the ‘Checklist for Managing Coordination Complexity in Third-Party Collaborations’ to ensure seamless integration and operational excellence in your manufacturing processes.