Thursday, January 21, 2016

Safety promotion in chemical plants anno 1985

While cleaning up some old keepsakes I discovered this comb from the days in the mid 80's when I was earning my living as a process control engineer with Imperial Oil's Esso Chemicals site at Sarnia in southern Ontario.

On the comb it says "Comb the area for hazards". I guess that was a rather naive statement, and in retrospect it now appear to indicate a wrong focus. It appears the focus is on the hazards, which in my opinion never can be eliminated from a chemical plant. I think - I hope many others. that the focus in chemical plants and other process facilities should be on reducing the risks of the day to day operations to an acceptable and manageable level. On a few occasions this can be done by using inherently safer technology to eliminate a hazards. But more often than not the hazard is inherent in the materials used or the products produced, so the best we can hope for is to reduce the risk.

Another trinkets from those days is screw driver set on which the inscription read "The Esso Safety Key - Stay Injury Free". That also appear rather naive.

I wonder if we in those days really belived, that distributing things like a combs and screw driver sets would improve safety at work or home. Sometimes these trinkets were distributed after a certain period without a first aid injury or a lost time injury.

The only item, I can say really improved safety in my home - and continues to do - is a fire extinguisher, which I won at a company Christmas event in Sarnia. We still have it just outside our kitchen.

I think it would be more beneficial for safety if local leaders and managers recognized good safety behavior of employees by going around in their plants, and on the spot giving an employee a pad on the shoulder. That you can be proved of, and tell your friends and family about.

What do you think? Are you still receiving trinkets for safety performance?