The elephant is off-the-job accidents. And the task for the safety coordinator is to find a way to prevent them. Let's discuss ways to get the job done.
Most Workplace Safety Methods Aren't Portable
A safety methodology has been developed to prevent accidents in the workplace. The method involves the use of familiar techniques such as job safety analyses, written procedures, pre-job inspection checklists, accident/incident investigations, etc. So, in theory, we could prevent off-the-job accidents by taking this safety methodology home.
It's a nice theory; but not a realistic one. First of all, who's going to apply these methodologies to your employees' families? Your employees lack the knowledge to do it themselves. And when I ask safety professionals if they've ever posted a job safety analysis in an employee's garage or conducted an incident investigation with an employee's spouse, all I ever get is a laugh.
Unfortunately, modern safety methodologies don't travel any better than traditional ones do. How many safety professionals trained in behavior based safety do you think go home and say, "Honey, let me give you some feedback on your at-risk behavior cooking dinner tonight"? Answer: None. At least none that are still married.
If you subscribe to the old "hazards cause injuries" model of accident causation, you could try to provide training on the specific hazards in the house (fire, electricity, chemicals, etc.). However, this training is designed for hazards that people aren't already aware of. If they already know about the stove being hot, the bathroom floor being slippery and the stairs/gravity thing, this kind of training won't do much good. After all, old information isn't very motivating.
What Will Work?
So what can you do to prevent employees from getting into off-the-job accidents? While the "hazards cause injuries" model won't work, the "Hazards are everywhere and coming into contact with them is what really causes injuries" approach just might.
When you stop and think about it, most common hazards aren't limited to the workplace. They can happen anywhere and at any time. There are four states (or combination of states) that serve as contributing factors to accidents. The mind might not be on the task as a result of being:
- In a rush;
- Frustrated; or
These four states lead to four critical errors, which increase the risk of whatever task you're doing - especially if you are moving. See Figure #1 (State to Error Risk Pattern).
Critical Error Reduction Techniques
Simply making people aware of this state to error risk pattern is helpful. But if you want to really help, you'll need to go beyond mere awareness building. When you look at the pattern, you'll notice that the state comes before the error. This means we could use the state as a trigger to think about not making a critical error.
This awareness technique works better with some states than others. A person can generally recognize when they're in a rush, tired or frustrated. What's harder to recognize is complacency.
To slay the elephant, we need to look at what people do automatically or habitually, without thinking. In other words, we must tell them what habits to improve, e.g., move eyes before hands, feet, body or car, so that what they do automatically - or habitually - is safer. We'll conclude our series next week with an overview of the Critical Error Reduction Techniques that you can use to accomplish this objective.
Use a meat thermometer to check if your bird is cooked
I don't know much about elephants. But I do know a little about turkeys. At least I know that cooking and eating a turkey can be dangerous. Here are some do's and don'ts to ensure that nothing bad happens to you and your guests when you serve the bird tomorrow.
DON'T thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature because it promotes growth of bacteria.
DO thaw the bird in the refrigerator. The rule of thumb: 24 hours for every five pounds.
DON'T stuff the turkey before you roast it.
DO keep the kids out of the kitchen when you're cooking.
DON'T wear loose clothing or dangling jewelry when you cook.
DO make sure your stove and oven are completely clean before cooking.
DON'T leave items unattended when you're cooking them.
DO cook on back burners wherever possible and turn pot handles in so they don't extend over the edge of the stove.
DO use a meat thermometer to make sure the turkey is thoroughly cooked. And test the thermometer before using it to ensure that it's working right.
DON'T eat leftover turkey or stuffing that's been refrigerated for longer than two days.
DO throw out frozen leftovers that have been left in the freezer for longer than six months.
DON'T put holiday decorations or clutter near the stove or sources of direct heat.
DO designate somebody to walk through the kitchen and the entire house after the festivities end to ensure that all appliances have been turned off and all candles have been extinguished.
SOME USEFUL PHONE NUMBERS
FDA Seafood Hotline: (800) 332-4010
USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: (800) 535-4555
Butterball Turkey Talk Line: (800) 323-4848