When it comes to safety-are you aware?

July 1, 2006 By    

Awareness is the first key to successful safety management. Without awareness, we may be whistling in the dark, assuming we understand exposures and degrees of risk that may impact our employees, our customers, our suppliers, our vendors, our community and our bottom line.

 Jay Johnston
Jay Johnston

If we only knew which areas to spend the most time on when it comes to safety. That kind of awareness insight and inside information would permit us to succeed at will while avoiding costly mistakes.

Who among us has not spent hours, weeks or months on a project or idea only to find that key information discovered at the beginning would have saved us wasted time and energy? What if such awareness might prevent an accident?

It is our natural instinct to leap before we look, to assume we have awareness and jump right in prior to having all pertinent facts. We guys hate to read maps or instructions. I think it’s in our genes.

On the other hand, my loving wife is a dedicated instruction reader. She can’t cook without reading from a recipe and agonizes whenever I decide to “gunk it up” with a spice or flavor.

Much to her surprise, I usually create culinary delights, where she often complains that her followed recipe tastes bland. Being an awareness guru, I keep my mouth shut. The question remains, whose way is right?

I believe we both contribute to success with our individual way of creating awareness. She on one hand is predictable. If she is following a good recipe, the food is usually good – unless she “gunk’s it up” in her own way by leaving out ingredients that she doesn’t like.

I often create a recipe from scratch and usually taste and add to perfection. However, sometimes I add an ingredient that overwhelms the taste and ruins the dish. Once I put it in, I can’t take it back.

The fine art of being aware applies specifically to your safety program.

Being aware of compliance and code requirements is essential to the safe handling, distribution and service of propane.

CETP, DOT and OQ training provide a solid foundation, however applied learning truly melds together with awareness.

Each employee has a different learning style and may need attention to achieve complete awareness of compliance and code requirements related to their job.

Hands on vendor training from a veteran factory representative or service tech trainer for each job type may heighten awareness in ways that protect your employees, your customers and the bottom line.

I believe that telling stories about incidents or situations, if done properly, can heighten safety awareness. If you have ever been to one of my programs you will remember at least two or three things I said or did while speaking. It may have been a phrase such as “inspect what you expect” or “owning the dog” about doing things right. I may have played the guitar while I demonstrated the virtues of practice. All of these techniques are designed to heighten awareness and create memories that last.

At your next safety meeting, you may consider taking a break from traditional training and encourage employees to talk about problems in the field or in the plant. Such brave discussions create awareness that can’t be found in books. They create alternatives and solutions from which action can be taken to prevent accidents and avoid a costly surprise.

Until next time – show you care by being aware.

Jay Johnston is president of Jay Johnston & Associates, helping propane marketers, nationwide, to achieve safe growth through insurance audits, safety services and awareness programs. His new book “The Practice of Safety” is available by contacting

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