Pledge of Allegiance
Put your Service to the Test
by Mike Burk
“Be our guest! Be our guest! Put our service to the test” are the familiar lyrics from Disney’s movie Beauty and the Beast. As manufacturers, we always make an effort to make visitors feel welcome to our facilities. We greet them with welcome boards and perhaps donuts or bagels. We may even cater their lunch. But do we take the extra necessary steps to cater to their safety?
Guests or visitors can include customers, suppliers, temporary workers, contractors and even associates from other divisions or facilities. In 2011 the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics began to track the number of fatalities among contractors. In 2011, 492 contractors were killed while working at someone else’s facility. Without getting into the IRS definition of contractors, we can assume that these people were not regular workers at the facility where they died.
We have many programs to protect ourselves and our co-workers from harm. We conduct safety training, complete safety audits, provide personal protective equipment and follow established safety rules and policies. We must be sure that we protect our visiting guests in the same manner. We must assume that they are totally unfamiliar with the hazards of our workplace. Even when they are frequent visitors, our production areas are ever changing. Equipment, aisles and product movement may be different than it was during their last visit. It is dangerous when we become complacent to our own ever-changing workplace. Extending this complacency to our visitors could prove to be dangerous.
Consider all possible hazards our guests might encounter before they enter the production area. Warn them of forklift patterns, overhead cranes, material movement and the requirement to stay within marked aisles. Ensure they have the proper personal protective equipment before entering the work area. Be sure that the aisles are clearly marked. Take extra effort to ensure our visitors do not enter areas which may contain hazardous materials, automated machinery, pinch points or hot sources that might cause burns.
Make them aware of alarm signals, fire exits and evacuation procedures. Be sure our guests have been registered so that in the event of an evacuation or emergency, we will know that they have safely exited the building.
Make Guests Stand Out
In addition to providing the required personal protective equipment, consider making visitors highly visible with special vests or hard hats. Our guests should stand out and be identified easily. This visibility gives the visitor a very high profile and allows us and our co-workers the opportunity to introduce ourselves and our manufacturing processes. Being identifiable and readily seen will help us ensure their safety. We can be quick to respond if they become separated from their escort or if they have entered an area that may contain hazards with which they are not familiar.
Demonstrate to our guests how proud we are of what we do and who we are. Above all make sure we don’t put their “service safety to the test.”
Mike Burk is product sales specialist at Quanex Building Products.
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