The Correct Way is the Safe Way

In a 1949 report to the ILO, TWI Foundation director, Channing Dooley provides explanation of the benefits of Job Instruction. This is a good follow up to my previous post about the Job Safety manual, which was derived from the Job Instruction manual. But specifically, Mr. Dooley details precisely what JI instructors and practitioners realize when breaking down jobs:

“This process could be rapidly and very economically applied to the development of such special operating programs as safety for three reasons. First, it would tend to make every supervisor safety minded, because he himself becomes a safety instructor. When the supervisor is responsible for safety it is difficult for him to pass all the responsibility to a staff safety man.”

There is a lot of talk about accountability of creating and upholding standards. The question we must ask then is this: do we just “empower” others with accountability – “you are hereby accountable!” or do we give people the skills to be accountable so that it is difficult for them to pass the buck?

“Second, the very process of breaking down a job, and requiring each worker to do it the correct way as a part of good job instruction, promotes safety because in most cases the correct way to do a job is the safe way…”

When breaking down jobs where people interact with machines, it is inevitable that you will uncover safety key points. It is also likely that you will find that the correct way to do the job conflicts with the use of tools, methods and policies. For example, safety knives are commonly used to prevent lacerations in the workplace. But inexplicably, lacerations still exist. One reason for this is that the safety knife may not be useful in all applications and people will bypass the safety policy or guards on the knife. This may result in a laceration because the person may not know the correct cutting method (cut away from your body). Many accidents can be avoided by teaching correct methods, rather than relying on contraptions that can be overcome and defeated. Another example is lifting devices. Is it cumbersome, timely or difficult to use a lifting device? Perhaps correct training will prevent workers from avoiding lifting aids and devices and resorting to manhandling heavy objects.

“Third, it directs the safety approach to the needs of each particular industry or shop operation, and not just to safety per se. Better results will be obtained by training safety directors who specialize in particular industries rather than to give all safety directors complete well-rounded courses in safety engineering. A safety director is more valuable to his organization as an instructor – salesman, if you please – of safe practices to supervisors than as merely a source of professional knowledge.”

Here is a way, as directors and managers, to follow up on our practices and methods of instruction to determine if people are utilized and effective. Take our lifting device or knife method for example. A safety director can use Job Instruction skills and guidelines to follow up with supervisors in order to evaluate the methods, tools, and materials used in production that contribute to safe or dangerous practices. This approach can lead to improvement at the macro and micro level. Having a specialty in OSHA compliance is useful, but many violations and trouble can be avoided by simply being familiar with the industry itself and specific operations that one is employed to improve. This familiarity is easily found by breaking down jobs and teaching the 4 step method using Job Instruction.

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