Have you ever thought of your team members as “industrial athletes?” Embracing that concept is just one way to improve safety training in your plant, according to Rob Lowe, corporate safety director at Packers Sanitation Services, Inc. (PSSI).

Speaking at the 2018 Meat and Poultry Worker Safety Conference in Atlanta, Lowe outlined five insights that PSSI uses to engage employees in a safer, more productive work environment:

  1. Treat workers like athletes. “Our sanitation team members must stand, bend, crawl and climb to reach every nook and cranny for cleaning,” says Lowe. “Before every shift we do group stretching exercises to prevent muscle pulls and strains—just like an athletic team preparing for a big game.”
  2. Be aware of learning styles. Lowe advises using a variety of training methods: visual, spoken, text-based and hands-on. “Many people, and millennials in particular, respond well to hands-on and simulated experiences. They learn best by watching someone do a task, then performing it themselves,” he says. PSSI uses interactive learning tools, such as a lock-out, tag-out demonstration board, so team members can watch and practice safe procedures.
  3. Keep it upbeat. PSSI sanitation teams track days and weeks without injury and celebrate milestones and successes. “We start every safety discussion on a positive note and instill pride among our team members,” Lowe says.
  4. Refocus during the shift. On a nightly basis, PSSI crews take part in what Lowe calls a “two-minute drill.” Team members stop work and come together to discuss and correct any safety hazards. “It takes just 30 seconds to refocus attention on safety. That pays huge dividends,” he says.
  5. Internalize a safety culture. Effective safety training goes beyond onboarding during the first days and weeks on the job, Lowe says. “We work hard to establish a culture of safety that new employees need to see, feel and understand from the first time they walk in the door. By passing this safety culture from one team member to another it becomes sustainable over time, even with turnover.”

For more information, visit redefinecleanpssi.com.