Performance Improvement Ideas

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"Safety: Operator Training Program."

October 16, 2009 by Mike Strawbridge

When I was responsible for workplace safety training at a Westvaco plant, I developed operator training programs that not only included the instructions on how to work safely but also, all the instructions on how to do the job or operate the machine.

The resulting workplace safety instructions became a much used document instead of just the paper to look at before a safety audit.  Or the one you pull out when someone gets hurt.

By making the operator training program useful to the operators, they no longer dreaded the safety training and actually paid attention.  We based our safety and operator training program on the assumption that our operators wanted to do a good job and go home with the same number of fingers and toes that they arrived at the workplace with.

In the process safety documentation for our distillation system, the safe operating limits for the system were written right into the standard operating procedures.  That way the operators did not have to reference a separate document if they needed to know how far they could push a process to compensate for some variable.

At the time we wrote these documents, this approach was considered unorthodox and was hard to get it accepted by the first auditors.  Once people realized the value of this type of safety operator training program, our method become the model for others to follow.

Mike Strawbridge October 16, 2009