The “safety walk” is an excellent measuring stick to see how the company is doing with its safety culture. The power of just walking around and observing how people work from a safety management point of view is very strong. However, it is vital that the people who are doing these walks are trained on the parts they need to focus on, what to look out for and how to communicate with people. Especially when someone is spotted doing something dangerous.
Having skilled people performing the safety walk will increase the effectiveness by order of magnitude. Focusing on the right elements and attention to detail allows safety managers to really drill down on why things are done in a certain way. People should not make things personal but always look at ways for the company to improve. Removing the ego is key in making the results of the walk useable.
The safety walk shouldn’t be just a tick in a box. More often than not, the safety walk is performed because it’s a requirement, but it’s actually a very important exercise that should be carried out regularly. If someone simply does it because they have the idea they need to do it, it is much better to assign it to another worker. The safety walk is a key tool in getting a feeling on how safety is perceived within the company, either on-site or within the production facility. Having a sense of what is going on can only be accomplished when people pay attention to detail.
A safety walk is a great method to collect information for improvement plans. When the employee walks around with a keen eye for safety, they will always notice things that can be improved. This can be as easy as an obstacle blocking the safety exit or things like complex communication problems within the organization. All the potential problems should be identified and can be picked up as input for improvement plans. That is why training the people who do these walks is key.
Obviously, the tools to do a good safety walk should be readily available. A mobile device is a prerequisite these days in order to do a good safety walk. It should be simple to take a picture or video of what is happening and take notes to see how the company can improve this. Without leveraging a mobile device, this process will feel like torture.
Also, having the means to analyze the results of several safety walks is key for improvement. Having great Business Intelligence tools for data analysis is ideal for making things quick and easy. And finally, when all the data is analyzed, it should be simple to build improvement plans and track their effectiveness. This way, the PDCA cycle of continuous improvement can be closed.